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Sunday, August 31, 2014

exploring Forts McClary & Foster

We live in southern Maine and are often by the beach, as you see from all of our pictures! So one day we were done with the beach but ready for more exploring. We found ourselves in Kittery at Fort McClary. It's one of my favorite places, but I'd never taken the kids there yet. SO much fun! Cheap, outside, sunny kinda fun. My favorite kind.



We got a great workout here, going up these stairs and in and out of the fort structures.

Such a great place for make believe and creativity. My son was obsessed with finding "Pirate Treasures."




I would not recommend wearing a dress to climb these stairs... but this 2 year old Diva would not wear anything else.




The clouds were the perfect backdrop that afternoon for beautiful pictures!





We told them this was where pirates worked one day. They LOVED exploring and searching for Captain Hook!




Seriously, those clouds!

This was the perfect spot for a photo shoot. If you want great pictures of your kids, just dress them up cute, gather hats or whatever other accessories that seem fun that day, and just follow them around as they explore, nothing posed. It's more fun that way anyway, and cheaper for you than trying to do some staged pictures.

Try this out!

*Note: real photographers are BEST as capturing your child for a gorgeous family portrait. This is just if you aren't able to get one of those done. Try out your own camera and some pretty clouds :) *


Fort McClary was SO fun! It was an easy afternoon. You could even take a picnic there for dinner or lunch. A few bucks and TONS of fun in Maine... I'll take it!

We then visited For Foster later in the week, it's up the street in Kittery.

We went after naps around 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon. We got subs and packed a picnic to just relax in the sunshine. It was awesome! We stayed for three hours and had no idea it was past bed time!


The beach is right in front of that picnic table, kids could swim if they wanted. We got our feet wet and searched for sea treasures.

Love the huge grass field, plenty of space for tents or towels for laying out.


The kids loved this old boat at the playground. So much fun!



We climbed to the top of that fort in the background, super fun and great views of the ocean.




A great few days of exploring! We love outside adventures. The kids enjoyed these so much, I can't wait to visit these forts a few more times this fall and definitely all next summer.

a BABYfeeding story - Betsy McCartney

Thanks to Betsy McCartney for sharing her story of breastfeeding her little one! A fiercely devoted mom, determined to make breastfeeding her legacy, just like her mother's, Betsy did all she could to make sure it was a successful nursing experience for her little babe! She encourages other moms to seek support, find other moms like yourself in the same situation, so you can learn from them and rely on them when feeling like you may give up. Great advice! 

Thanks, Betsy!


All images from Betsy McCartney


1. When pregnant, what was your plan for feeding your child? How did you think you would do in the hospital? How easy did you think it would be? 
My plan was to breastfeed until a year.  My Mom breastfed all three of us in the late 70s-80s when it wasn't as cool to do and I knew it was how I wanted to do it.  Honestly, I never really considered formula as an option unless things REALLY didn't work for us.  

I knew we would have some difficulties breastfeeding and that being super shy and self conscious I would have trouble in the hospital but was really hoping what everyone said about losing your dignity would happen and I would get over having my breasts hang out!!  (They were right!) I had inverted nipples prior to pregnancy that I knew might limit my abilities to breastfeed and I talked to my OB and midwife about prior to birth.  They gave me shells to wear during my late pregnancy to try and help draw my nipples out but one was still really inverted when I gave birth so I was super nervous I wouldn't be able to nurse on that side and that one side wouldn't be enough.  The OB nurses gave me a nipple shield after birth to help Patrick latch and it worked great but it was a PAIN.  We ditched it by 6 weeks with some work!

2. How did you prepare for feeding your child while pregnant? Did you read any good books, check out Web sites, take classes, take free items from your doctor's office, talk to other moms, etc.? 
How prepared did you feel going into the hospital for feeding your child? 
My Mom is seriously a crazy breastfeeding guru.  I wish she could have been here when Patrick was born but she has a lot of health issues that prevent her from helping as much as we both wish she could.  She sent me The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding during my last 2 months of pregnancy and asked me EVERY day if I had read it yet until I read enough of it to please her.  She had used that as a guide when she breastfed as well.  It has great info on a ton of topics.  I read everything I could find on inverted nipples and breastfeeding.  I took all the formula samples from the hospital and signed up for the coupons hoping I'd never need them but I can't pass up anything free! ;)  I was also blessed to be nearby to other new(ish) Moms who breastfed like Bethany Sullivan who was a good role model (just like for my cloth diaper journey!).  I am lucky to live in a supportive community of like minded people!  Although I don't know that I ever SAW a baby latch before Patrick, I still absorbed lots of information about feeding cues and positions that I don't know I even realized I was seeing!


3. How did the first week of feeding go for your child? What did you try? What helped, what did not help? What challenges did you experience that first week feeding your child? How did you FEEL with feeding your child that first week? 
So we were given a nipple shield by the OB nurses the first night Patrick was born.  When my OB came by the next morning and saw that shield she was disappointed I think and I was concerned.  I didn't know much about shields, but realized already that it was annoying to have another thing to keep track of and keep in place while trying to latch a newborn.  I can still play in my mind her face when she said "oh, they gave you a shield?"  From that day on we were on a mission to get rid of it!  In the hospital we tried all the holds - football, cross cradle, cradle, and laid back nursing.  Patrick had a pretty shallow latch to start and it was hard to get the whole shield in his mouth.  The nurses helped position him as much as they could and hubby helped hold hands out of the way when possible.  My milk didn't come in until about 4-5 days after birth (totally normal, but still disconcerting when every hospital staff asks you every 8 hours if your milk is in yet on day 2!!).  When my milk came in it was a whole new problem.  My boobs were ROCK hard and so painful.  Patrick had an even harder time latching and there was no experienced help.  My in laws were visiting but my MIL formula fed.  I didn't have a pump (or realize that pumping was an option at that point) so in 2 days my supply had regulated some and I could wear a bra again (sometimes).  I loved nursing and having a job with my baby.  I had a pretty painful tear during delivery so being able to sit for hours was perfect!  I loved that I had milk from both breasts even with the inverted nipples.  I was happy to be successfully breastfeeding!

4. What surprised you about how hard/easy it was to feed your child at first? 
I was surprised by the pain in my breasts when they were full.  I didn't have any real nipple pain to speak of initially because of the shield.  I was also surprised how often and how LONG he would feed at times.  Comfort nursing was also amazing - to feel the difference and know when he was getting milk and when he was just sucking for comfort.  

5. What do you wish people had told you about how hard/easy it would be to feed your child in the beginning? 
Latching a newborn is HARD and pretty much a full time job by itself!  Don't suffer through a bad, shallow, or continuously uncomfortable latch.  Get help!  Find support before baby so you can call easily when baby comes.  Get support to come to you if possible!


6. After that first week, what was your experience feeding your child? What was your routine? 
Around 3-4 weeks we introduced a bottle so that I could work 7 hours one day a week.  We started with the bottles that came with the pump because it was easy to not have to transfer milk.  Around that same time I was gradually reducing the nipple shield use.  Between the narrow bottle nipples and less shield use, I ended up with SORE nipples and Patrick's latch was worse than ever.  I spent a few days crying while nursing (hubby was back to work), trying to convince baby to take a bottle to rest my nipples, and coming close to throwing him when he latched onto my super sore nipple.  It was bad.  I called the OB floor where I delivered and went in to see the LC nurses.  Of course Patrick latched perfectly there, but the nurse still gave me exactly what I needed, a reminder to break the latch and start over if it hurts and more suggestions/reminders on positioning.  I spent days breaking the latch and repositioning, using the shield again, and applying LOTS of lanolin.  And then, things were good.  We started using the Tommee Tippee bottles (which we had had before, but hadn't used) and put the narrow pump nipples away. We nursed whenever Patrick wanted and cluster fed in the evenings for 2-4 hours, switching sides whenever I needed a break.  We dropped the shield by 6 weeks and my OB was thrilled to see me nursing without it at my checkup.  I pumped as needed (not often) to get 2 oz to feed for practice bottles.  From about 4 weeks on, Patrick woke up once a night and nursed on one side only so I pumped the other side while he nursed.  He slept through the night from about 8 weeks and I got up once when I woke up between 12-3 with leaking breasts to pump and store milk.  When I returned to work at 12 weeks I quit the night wake up gradually.  Of course the sleeping through the night didn't last and I always nursed in the night when he did (and does) wake up.  

7. What tips do you have for either breastfeeding or formula feeding, or exclusively pumping or some combo in between? What specific things helped you to feed your child the first few months? (Drink more water, bring baby to you when nursing, try 2 oz of formula at first, try different bottles, etc.) 
Drink lots of water, eat oatmeal, drink gatorade if you can stand it.  DON'T pump in the first few weeks if you can help it.  Check out paced bottle feeding, use wide mouth bottles, and don't let daycare tell you how much milk to send.  Read Kellymom.com's info on breastfeeding and bottle feeding and milk amounts!  I let daycare tell me how much milk I needed and didn't realize baby's need 1-1.5 oz of bm per hour of separation.  I was pumping and sending 25 oz of bm a day for 10 hours apart!!  I pumped before baby got up, 3 -4 times at work, and once after baby went to bed.  I wiped myself out pumping and gave myself an oversupply that I'm still working to control and Patrick is almost 18 months old.


8. What is your advice to moms who are experiencing pressure, expectations, judgment, or otherwise unwanted comments about how they are feeding their child?
 
Take all the advice people give you and use what works best for YOUR family and your situation. Everyone thinks they know the best way, but every child and every Mom is different and needs to figure out their own way.  
9. If you felt Mama Guilt over how you fed or did not feed your child, what was that like for you? What's your advice to other moms who experience that guilt? 
none

10. What are you most PROUD of about how you've fed your child? 
Honestly, I'm proud that I was able to BF exclusively and come to the decision that I am not going to force weaning on my child YET.  I am an indecisive person usually, but I have made this decision myself and convinced my initially reluctant husband that this is best for us as a family.  

11. If you have more than one child, was your experience feeding your children the same or different? In which ways? What's your advice to a mom who did not get the experience she wanted with one kid, could it be different with feeding another one? 
one

12. What have you learned about yourself as a mother through the process of feeding your child? 
See #10.  I am passionate about breastfeeding just like my mother (and my sister who doesn't have children of her own yet).  I believe that it is best in most situations and that support is critical.  I have found that the local LLL has been a great (non-virtual, because obviously The Mommy Stories is awesome too) support group and social group of Moms for me!

13. Anything else you'd like to add? 
Patrick is almost 18 months and still nursing morning and night on weekdays and sometimes once during the day on weekends.  I stopped pumping at 15 months (finally) and still have milk enough for him.  It is amazing how the body adjusts.  I have a college friend who is nursing 35 week twins in NJ (I'm in ME) and I've been sending her random emails with pumping and nursing advice.  I've loved being able to help her even though I can't be there with her.  

OH and breastfeeding babies is hard for Daddy!  My husband was trying so hard to help and be there, but he was SO frustrated by the fact that I could calm the baby by touching or holding him and that Patrick would cry if he held him.  Honestly, it was frustrating to both of us.  I think that might have been the hardest thing to get through.  And still, he wants me if something is wrong, but Mike can help so much more and Patrick is easier to distract with toys etc.  It does get better and I'm not convinced that the same thing wouldn't happen with formula.  

14 - What supplies, equipment, brands, accessories, etc. were your favorite as far as feeding your baby? (bottles, formula brand, nursing or pumping equipment, etc.)
I had great luck with my Medela Pump in Style Advanced pump (paid by insurance wahoo!) and a Simple Wishes tie back nursing bra.  I tried the Pumpin Pals shields but didn't love them unlike everyone else I know!  I lived in Target nursing tanks for the first year.  Great when at work so I could lift up my shirt and not have my tummy hanging out and cold while pumping!  I used cloth nursing pads - both the Medela brand and the TLC pads and both had good and bad points!  For storing milk I used the Lansinoh bags and froze flat, always defrosting in another container because you do get leaks sometimes!  When I was freezing larger quantities of milk for a day of daycare I liked the tommee tippee bags because they hold 10oz or so.  There's an adapter available for tommee tippee bottles for a Medela pump, found that way too late!  Ring sling and Moby!!!  Only way I was able to get anything done!  I'm sure there are other great products but I can't think of any now!!

---Betsy :-) (Elisabeth Foley McCartney on facebook!!)
Pictures: 2 of milk coma baby!  My breastfeeding role model Mom with Patrick 10 days after his birth. 15 month old Patrick learning to feed himself peanut butter and pretzels! And lastly, nursing while babywearing and hiking!

a BABYfeeding story - Kaleigh Pimble

Thanks to Kaleigh Pimble for sharing her story with us of breastfeeding. I admire her tenacity and fierce determination. I respect how hard she worked and her "never give up" motivation-filled attitude with breastfeeding. This is such a great way to go into feeding your child! I love it. Thanks, Kaleigh!


All images from Kaleigh Pimble


 1. When pregnant, what was your plan for feeding your child? How did you think you would do in the hospital? How easy did you think it would be? 
I always knew I wanted to breastfeed. My mother is a postpartum care doula and lactation counselor, so I knew breastfeeding wasn’t always super easy, but I was pretty determined that the right mindset would help us to be successful.

 2. How did you prepare for feeding your child while pregnant? Did you read any good books, check out Web sites, take classes, take free items from your doctor's office, talk to other moms, etc.? How prepared did you feel going into the hospital for feeding your child?
I talked to my mom, sister, and friends who are moms ahead of time. Other than what I read in What to Expect When You’re Expecting, I didn’t read too much about breastfeeding. I felt like anything I read wouldn’t really sink in until my baby was in my arms and I was actually feeding her.

 3. How did the first week of feeding go for your child? What did you try? What helped, what did not help? What challenges did you experience that first week feeding your child? How did you FEEL with feeding your child that first week? 
We struggled immensely during the first week. My daughter was diagnosed IUGR, which meant that she was an uber peanut (4 lbs. 15 oz.), and it was difficult for her to latch. The nurses brought me a pump immediately. I pumped and fed K with a syringe. The nurse showed me to put my finger in her mouth so she could practice suckling. We did not have a successful latch our entire stay in the hospital. Once home, I continued to pump and feed my daughter with a syringe. I was incredibly lucky that my mother had so much experience with helping nursing moms. We continued to try to get my daughter to latch, unsuccessfully. After a few days we decided to try a shield. We had immediate success! I was overjoyed at being able to feed her in the way I had always imagined.

 4. What surprised you about how hard/easy it was to feed your child at first? 

I wasn’t surprised that it was difficult; however, it was nerve-wracking that she might not be getting enough to eat, especially since she was so little to begin with.

 5. What do you wish people had told you about how hard/easy it would be to feed your child in the beginning?
 I felt that I was prepared to face challenges, knowing it had the possibility of being difficult. I felt determined that no matter what obstacles we faced, we would make it work.


 6. After that first week, what was your experience feeding your child? What was your routine? 
I nursed K on demand for over a year, and we still nurse once at bedtime now that she’s 17 months. We nursed with the shield for 9 months, and out of the blue, she decided she didn’t want it anymore. She kept taking it off, and was able to latch without it. It was incredibly liberating.

 7. What tips do you have for either breastfeeding or formula feeding, or exclusively pumping or some combo in between? What specific things helped you to feed your child the first few months? (Drink more water, bring baby to you when nursing, try 2 oz of formula at first, try different bottles, etc.)  

The best advice that I ever received about breastfeeding was that it’s mind over matter. So much of what our bodies are able to do when it comes to breastfeeding is because our minds tell us we can. 

I drank lots of water, and ate what I wanted. Once I went back to work, I made sure I pumped in the morning, once or twice at work, and fed my daughter as soon as we got home.

8. What is your advice to moms who are experiencing pressure, expectations, judgment, or otherwise unwanted comments about how they are feeding their child?

A mother’s instinct is the strongest, most accurate instinct in the world. We all feed our babies with love, as much bonding can happen with a bottle as with a breast, and YOU know what is best for you and your child.

9. If you felt Mama Guilt over how you fed or did not feed your child, what was that like for you? What's your advice to other moms who experience that guilt? 
I truly feel we always do what is best for our children, and as long as you love your child, and do your best, there is no need to feel guilty! I was always told that there will be plenty to feel guilty about as our kids grow up, so don’t feel guilty about nourishing and feeding your child in the way which works best for you.


10. What are you most PROUD of about how you've fed your child? 
I am proud that I have been able to nurse my daughter for as long as I have. It is really a special time for us, and we both immensely enjoy our time together.

 11. If you have more than one child, was your experience feeding your children the same or different? In which ways? What's your advice to a mom who did not get the experience she wanted with one kid, could it be different with feeding another one?
only one

12. What have you learned about yourself as a mother through the process of feeding your child? 

I have learned that I am more determined than I realized, that my instincts are trustworthy, and that I can be a mother.

 13. Anything else you'd like to add? 
Nursing is the best choice that I made; it has been an incredible experience for my daughter and me. I never considered that I would breastfeed as long as I have, but it is such a relaxing, wonderful experience for both of us.


14 - What supplies, equipment, brands, accessories, etc. were your favorite as far as feeding your baby? (bottles, formula brand, nursing or pumping equipment, etc.) 
I loved Dr. Browns bottles, and I wouldn’t have been able to pump at work without my Medela Pump In Style. When pumping at work, I’d bring the Medela breast milk cleansing wipes, which were great for a quick clean in between pumping sessions.

a BABYfeeding story - Kim Raymond

Thanks Kim Raymond for sharing your beautiful story of breastfeeding both your girls past a year! So well-spoken, Kim is a true supporter of ALL moms and how they feed their babies. She encourages trusting yourself, finding self-confidence to feel good about how you feed your children, and ultimately to remember YOU are the mother, you're in charge! 

Thanks, Kim, love this!



All images from Kim Raymond


1. When pregnant, what was your plan for feeding your child? How did you think you would do in the hospital? How easy did you think it would be?
When I was pregnant with my first child I knew that I wanted to breastfeed.  I had no idea what to expect really because I didn't know anyone from my family who breastfed.  My mom had two sets of twins and we were all fed formula.  (For anyone out there with multiples who is nursing...you are amazing!)   I had a close friend who was very comfortable with breastfeeding and would nurse in front of me.  That was really my first experience with seeing someone breastfeeding.  

I didn't have a lot of expectations but was picturing this easy experience with my baby nursing a few minutes after birth.  I was wrong!

2.  How did you prepare for feeding your child while pregnant? Did you read any good books, check out Web sites, take classes, take free items from your doctor's office, talk to other moms, etc.? How prepared did you feel going into the hospital for feeding your child?
While I was pregnant I tried to talk to friends and family about what it might be like.  It was hard because everyone seems to have different view about how they feed their children ( which is totally ok!)  Some of my family members seemed to not quite understand why breastfeeding was so important to me but they were trying to be supportive.   I did some reading online about bottles, different nipples, pacifiers, nipple confusion, etc.  I think the best thing that I did was to pump myself up and keep telling myself that I could do it and that It was going to be so good for my baby!  

I also learned some about breastfeeding and what to expect in my childbirth class.  I have to mention that I also met my now best friend in childbirth class!  Both of our two kids are about two weeks apart in age (and we didn't plan that!)  So I totally recommend taking a childbirth class as a first time mom to at the very least connect with some other first time moms.  


3.  How did the first week of feeding go for your child? What did you try? What helped, what did not help? What challenges did you experience that first week feeding your child? How did you FEEL with feeding your child that first week?
My first week of breastfeeding was so far from what I expected!  I actually went into labor without even realizing it at  35 weeks.  My daughter Zoelle was born  two days shy of 36 weeks.  Because she was under 36 weeks, they automaitially had a NICU nurse in the room and said they would have to take her to the NICU  right after she was born.

When she was born after only 10 minutes of pushing, I remember this overwhelming feeling of joy and also anxiety because of all the extra people in the room (nursing student, med student, NICU nurse)  I didn't get to hold her right away as I had hoped.  They finally handed her to me a few minutes later (felt like forever!)  and I was so happy.  I remember thinking that I wanted to nurse her before they took her to the NICU.  She didn't have any breathing problems or anything and was a healthy 6 lbs 7.5 ounces.  I told one of the nurses that I wanted to nurse her before they took her away but somehow that got lost in communication between that nurse and the NICU nurses.  Within minutes she was taken to the NICU before I could attempt nursing.  I was tired and emotional and overwhelmed.  I think if it had been my second child I would have definitely stood my ground and spoke up about wanting to feed her.

Finally an hour and a half after she was born, they wheeled me into the NICU and all I wanted to do was feed her and hold her.  I read about it being easier  to breastfeed if you nursed as soon as possible after birth so I was worried.  Plus they told me that her blood sugar was a little low so they had given her a bottle of formula already.  I was so upset by this.  Not because formula is bad (Its not!) but because it wasn't the experience I had pictured while I was pregnant. When I finally got to try nursing her It went ok.  She did latch on after several attempts.  It is hard sometimes in the beginning I think because her mouth was  so small!  

I was overjoyed when she was finally nursing and I remember thinking “Yes, she is doing it.  It's going to work!”   It was an amazing feeling that I was giving her something that no one else could.  

I was lucky that she was very healthy but she did have jaundice so they said she had to stay in the NICU.  It was so hard because I couldn't just nurse on demand.  They had her on a 3 hour feeding schedule so I would go in every three hours and nurse her.  They also didn't want me to nurse for more than 10-15 minutes on each side.  I hated not being in control  and looking back I wish I had spoken up.  

Zoelle had to stay in the NICU for a week and I was discharged on day 3!  It was such a horrible feeling leaving my baby in the hospital while I had to go home.  I cried so much when I left.  I was fortunate to live close to the hospital so I would drive back and forth to the hospital every 3 hours so I could be there to feed her.  Mostly during the day.  I didn't go at night. I was so exhausted!   When I wasn't feeding her, I spent time pumping.   On the day I was discharged from the hospital they sent me with a hand pump and I knew I needed to go get an electric pump right away.  I hadn't had a chance to buy a pump yet because I had gone into labor before I bought one.  I was fortunate because my insurance paid for my pump because my baby was in the NICU.  

During the night when I was getting up every 3 hours to pump, I was in pain.  My nipples were red and sore, milk hadn't come in very well yet and I wasn't producing very much.  The hospital had given me some labels and containers for my breastmilk so I would bring the labeled milk in everytime I went in for feedings so she could get some of my milk at night when I wasn't there.  

4.  What surprised you about how hard/easy it was to feed your child at first?
I was surprised that it took so long for my milk to really come in well (5-6 days).  I don't know what I expected but I though that by day 2 or 3 I would just be this milk producing machine.  That was not the case.   I was also surprised at how much my nipples hurt(maybe to much information!)  Some was due to Zoelle having a poor latch but some was due to pumping soo much!   In some ways I was surprised at how easily Zoelle first latched on even though it was over an hour after she was born when I first tried. 

5.  What do you wish people had told you about how hard/easy it would be to feed your child in the beginning?
I wish I had known that it was possible for a baby to be fed formula and still have a successful breastfeeding experience.  It would have made me less anxious.  I also wish I had known that your milk doesn't come in immediately and that babies lose weight in the beginning.  


6.  After that first week, what was your experience feeding your child? What was your routine?
Once Zoelle was out of the NICU and finally home with us breastfeed was easier.  I could feed on demand.  I do remember setting my alarm for every 3 hours during the night at first because I was so worried about her jaundice and weight loss.  I remember wondering if she was getting enough and how do I know?  If she spits up should I feed her more?  Do I always have to feed on both sides?  Those are some questions I had.  Those first few weeks were a blur.   I don't think I would have eaten or brushed my teeth if it hadn't been for my husband!   

After the first couple of weeks it did get so much easier!  It was so nice to always have food ready to go with no prep.  Zoelle was gaining weight and latching on better.  We fell into a rhythm.  I felt like we were communicating in our own way.  I began to notice her hunger cries and cues more and felt like I was starting to be this milk machine I had imagined.  Pumping got easier too.  I started pumping a little about 30 minutes after feedings a couple of times a day so that I could build up a supply in the freezer.  

7.  What tips do you have for either breastfeeding or formula feeding, or exclusively pumping or some combo in between? What specific things helped you to feed your child the first few months? (Drink more water, bring baby to you when nursing, try 2 oz of formula at first, try different bottles, etc.)

I want breastfeeding moms to know that it is important to do what you think is right and take advice with a grain of salt.  

I remember my mom (who didn't breastfeed) once say “Didn't she just nurse an hour ago?  Does she really need to eat again?”   Sometimes babies might want to eat every hour  or two in the beginning.  Both of my girls used to always eat every two hours for the longest time!  

Trust your instincts! You are the mom.

It really helped me when my husband would bring my daughter to me.  We did a lot of co sleeping too which made breastfeeding easier.  I tried to make sure I drank a lot of water and took my vitamins so I could be healthy myself.  Having someone around to help you remember to take care of yourself is a huge help!!

It is also a good idea to build up a supply in the freezer.  I knew I was going back to work in a few months so I worked hard to build up a supply.  Even if you aren't working it is nice to have some back up in case you have to go out sometime, so your partner can do some feedings or in case of emergencies. 

I really want new moms to know that it's ok if things don't go as planned.  It might not happen as easily as you hope but it is important to not give up.  

I have heard lots of people give advice about not giving your baby a bottle or a pacifier too early or they would get nipple confusion and not nurse.  'Im sure that is a problem for some babies but wasn't for us.  Well, Zoelle had a bottle and pacifier before I even got to nurse her for the first time and it still worked out for us!  

8.  What is your advice to moms who are experiencing pressure, expectations, judgment, or otherwise unwanted comments about how they are feeding their child?
I think it is so important to remember that it is your choice and it's your child.  Sometimes people judge just because they don't understand it.  My husband never knew anyone who had breastfed and therefore would say things like “well you don't have to nurse when we go to visit my family because you can just put some in a bottle”  Of course he soon realized that if your baby is with you it is way easier to just breastfeed (or it was for me anyway!)  

Buy a good nursing cover or just keep a receiving blanket with you and you can breastfeed anywhere!  I learned quickly that all I had to do was throw a receiving blanket over my shoulder and  no one could see anything.  With a receiving blanket it is actually easy to just lift up and peek at your baby while she/he is nursing, they don't take up much space and there are no hooks or straps or snaps to deal with.  I actually had a BabyGo front carrier that I found at walmart that both my girls practically lived in when I was out and about.  I learned to just slip one strap off to the side and put a receiving blanket over and I could nurse them on the go!  

There will always be people who will judge you and it is important that you tell yourself that you are doing something good for your baby.  Whether you formula feed or breastfeed you are feeding your baby they way that works for you and your baby.  You shouldn't feel bad about that!  

One thing that helped me was going to the breastfeeding support group at the hospital where I gave birth.  At those groups, moms would just sit around the circle and feed their babies in front of everyone.  It really helped me to realize that it was ok and helped me to be very comfortable with just feeding my baby when and where I needed too.   I just carried my receiving blanket or two with me and felt at ease that I could feed my kids when I needed to without stress.  

9.  If you felt Mama Guilt over how you fed or did not feed your child, what was that like for you? What's your advice to other moms who experience that guilt?
I had guilt about not feeding Zoelle right after she was born, and guilt about not being able to feed on demand the first week.  I also felt a ton of guilt when I went back to work at 13 weeks.  It was so hard but did get easier when I got into a routine.  It is important to realize that if you are a working mom and are pumping at work then your baby is getting something from you even when you aren't with him or her.  I used to tell people “I'm feeding my baby”  when I had to go and pump.  It helped me keep going and I often used this time to call and check in with daycare while I was pumping.  

I also have learned that things won't always go the way you plan but kids are so resilient and will be ok!  I was lucky to be able to breastfeed until both my daughters were around 19 months.  I never planned to breastfeed that long but it was going well so we just kept going.  

Whether you use formula, breastfeed or a combination of the two, your baby will be ok!  


10.  What are you most PROUD of about how you've fed your child?
I'm proud that I was able to nurse as long as I did even though it wasn't always easy.  I'm proud that I didn't give in when I was feeling pressure from others to wean.  I'm also very proud that I  kept going even when my supply was starting to go down and I was struggling to find time to pump at work. It was so frustrating when I would only get one or two ounces after pumping for 20 minutes when I had friends who would get 8!!  But I kept going. 

11.  If you have more than one child, was your experience feeding your children the same or different? In which ways? What's your advice to a mom who did not get the experience she wanted with one kid, could it be different with feeding another one?
With my second child I had a very different breastfeeding experience.  ( I was in the hospital for 26 nights before she was born.... but that's another story!)  I was able to nurse her minutes after birth and never had to give any formula at all.  We went home from the hospital together so I didn't have to do so much pumping in the beginning.  She was very colicy and cried so much for the first few months that I didn't think it would ever stop!  I felt like she was nursing for comfort ALL THE TIME!  But I wore her in the carrier a lot which helped and I learned to nurse on the go.  

I think that just because something doesn't go the way you planned the first time doesn't mean that you can't have a successful breastfeeding experience with another child.  You can do it!  And even if it doesn't work out they way you plan, your child will be ok!

12.  What have you learned about yourself as a mother through the process of feeding your child?

I've learned that it can be overwhelming when you are the food source for your baby but also so amazing.  I have learned that I am so much stronger than I thought I could be.  

In a way I think breastfeeding helped me to be more outgoing and open.  That may sound strange but there is something about sitting around in a circle at a breastfeeding support group with other mom's with a baby attached to your breast that makes you realize what is really important.  It is important that I stay confident in myself and not worry about the judgment of others. 


13.  Anything else you'd like to add?
When I was going to the breastfeeding support group I got a chance to talk a lot with a fabulous lactation consultant  Pam Houston!  She was awesome and it was great to talk to her if I had questions about what to expect, what was ok, medications that were safe while breastfeeding, etc.  

I would also say that if you can connect with other moms who are also breastfeeding then you can share advice, problems or breastfeeding bloopers!  It's nice to  have a little humor and talk to someone who understands exactly what you are going through. 

My youngest daughter Aisley is now 21 months old and I wish I had taken pictures of our breastfeeding/ cuddle time.  It goes by so fast.  

I feel happy knowing I gave my girls part of me and helped them to grow into the happy healthy girls that they are.  It wasn't an easy journey but worth every single second.  

I hope that by sharing my experience, I can help other moms to feel inspired or stronger by knowing that another mom maybe had a similar experience.  As a mom, I always find comfort in knowing that I'm not alone.