Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Biting, Breastfeeding, & Bad Advice...

{Disclaimer: This is more about the bad advice you get as a mother/parent than it is about breastfeeding. You will never hear me condemn either choice for feeding your baby; I have done it all and I love each of my children the same!}

I have recently been having some troubles with Maya biting me while nursing {ouch, yes!}. She's teething and she's had some colds and such. I can't blame her. I just didn't know what to do about it. I was getting sore...really sore. It got to the point where I would tense up every time she nursed on the left side because the pain was so bad. When she broke skin one night last week, I knew I had to do something.

So, as in many situations, I took to the Internet to find help, ideas, and information. Luckily, after three kids and five and a half years, I'm pretty good at weeding out the good information from the bad. I was shocked and appalled at the number of sites {popular, well used sites} that suggested perhaps it was time to wean my child. What??? My barely a year old child who is in constant pain and discomfort? They suggested that I take away her one true source of comfort? Crazy, right? Yes, crazy...but not new.

In fact, this is not the first time I've been encouraged {by ill-informed, albeit well meaning people} to do something other than keep nursing my child. When Maya was born a healthy size, some of the nurses suggested that I needed to feed her a bottle to keep her sugar levels up {not true}. When we came home and Maya was nursing almost constantly, some suggested that a bottle with some formula would help to satisfy and satiate {not true}. When I got the flu sometime during Maya's first year, some encouraged me to think about supplementing with formula, thinking that my feeding her was somehow depleting my nutrients and causing me to get sick {not true}. When she turned one year, some thought that should be enough and we could just stop nursing. Once again...not true! Had this not been my third child, had I not had a broad base of very good information, or had I not been so determined to breastfeed Maya, anyone of these suggestions could have hurt or ended what was/is ultimately one of the best, most rewarding, and most successful feeding arrangements of my life.

This is not the first time I've received bad parenting information from ill-informed, albeit well meaning, individuals. Over the course of almost six years, many people have tried to tell me what would be best for my child. From what and how I feed them, to where and how they sleep, to when and if they should go to school, to what kind of shoes they should be seems like most people just want you to do either what they did, or what makes them the most comfortable. For years, I was thought odd for my strict nap schedule and my kid's early bedtimes. I spent nearly a year defending Layla's nighttime use of a binkie while I let her decide when she was ready to give it up {which she did}. I have been criticized for allowing my children to go barefoot, for letting them sleep in my bed, for giving them back toys that fell on the floor, etc. So many of the decisions we make as parents have strong opinions attached to them.

I should interject here that as a parent, I'm constantly seeking information...but in the form of facts and actual real-life experiences. I love hearing pros and cons of options and then choosing what I think is best for our situation. And I'm certainly not afraid to go a new route all together. In all the above mentioned instances, I was fortunate enough to have some reliable sources {books, doctors, experts} to consult while re-assessing my decisions. But what scares me is how often these ill-informed, albeit well meaning individuals can influence some less confident mothers. My goodness, I can't imagine some poor young new mother believing that she had to all of a sudden wean her one-year-old after a year full of completely successful breastfeeding just because her child was teething. Many babies cut teeth prior to their first birthday. With the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommending that babies be breastfed for at least one year, how could weaning be the solution to a teething/biting problem.

And this is not a problem that only affects breastfeeding...and I haven't always been above the bad advice. There have been a few times I've made decisions regarding my children based someone else's comfort level and therefore missed out on doing what would have been better for our family. Luckily, I've also been able to ignore bad advice and popular opinions and instead made decisions that were better and more authentic for our family. I cannot stop people from having and expressing their opinions. But I hopefully could encourage other mothers to get good information and make decisions that they feel good about. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what everyone else is doing or what everyone else has done...what matters is that you are doing what is best for your family.

Oh, and a simple correction of Maya's latch has all but eliminated our problem. No weaning necessary.


Stam House April 14, 2010 at 12:47 PM  

That is a great post! And I hear ya, people think that what was working for them is the only way to go! Well we have 2 little goose and another on the way and I can tell you each pregnancy /newborn/ child is different!!!!

What was working for one did not for the other. So what I've learn,

* trust your motherly instinct and be flexible (learn how to read your child as a individual) makes any sense to you?


{Amy} April 14, 2010 at 1:28 PM  

I totally and completely agree, it's like the co-sleeping thing. After just two kids my opinion is; "Do what you need to do and don't worry about what I'm doing." :) But it takes going through these experiences to learn what we really believe in as mothers.

I had the same biting issue and I was going to tell you that the latch makes all the difference. Someone actually told me that when they bit I should bite them back! Ha! Lunatics!

Divas and dreams photography blog April 14, 2010 at 2:48 PM  

Wow..I do remember that time when my 3 kids where that age and I remember the biting too! I think you as a mother always knows what is best for your just have to listen to that inner voice and like you said; what is right for others may not be right for you! Great post, I am sure you are a wonderful mommie dearest :-)

Kris's Kaptured Moments April 14, 2010 at 9:04 PM  

Nursing is the most wonderful thing for mom and baby if that's the choice. I bottlefed my first four and nursed the last two. I loved both, but no one was sadder than me when I stopped nursing my last baby at 16 months. I stopped for the wrong reasons..Because Phoebe is quite large for her age, people made comments and stared at us when I nursed in public. I stopped, but regretted doing it this before we were ready. Even after 6 kids, peer pressure can be brutal. I say do what is best for you and the little miss.
Thank you for much for this blog and your understanding and compassionate point of view.

Jamie April 14, 2010 at 9:53 PM  

I'm the last one to have any words of wisdom when it comes to motherhood. I'll just say the photos are amazing!!!

Corinne April 14, 2010 at 10:13 PM  

This post hit home in so many ways. I wish I had the confidence I have now when I only had Fynn... and even in the early days with Paige. It's crazy how everyone thinks what is right for them is right for everyone else, when really it's about insecurities.
Why is it so hard for us to trust ourselves? Ahhh motherhood, there's such a big learning curve.

Kim Klassen April 14, 2010 at 11:28 PM  

oh i adore you!!! and i adore this post and the amazing images... ♥

This Heavenly Life April 15, 2010 at 12:12 AM  

Oh, I love this! I'm JUST now learning to be confident in my choices, no matter how often they're met with knotted brows or skeptical words. My family is under my domain, so to speak :)

I hope I never give someone advice that goes against what would really be best for them, but knowing how often I've been given advice that rubs me the wrong way...I'll have to be careful!

Courtney @ splashing grace April 15, 2010 at 12:55 AM  

hooray for correcting a latch - makes a world of difference. And, hooray for moms doing what works for our children - may it make the world a different place.

Amy April 15, 2010 at 6:51 AM  

It's such an interesting phenomenon - this motherly-advice issue. I think some people push their advice to make themselves feel less alone in decisions they either regret, or were unsure of.

Having said that however I also think that sharing your experiences as a mother with other mothers is one of the things that helps us connect and feel supported through this journey. Some people are just less graceful in their approach!

I don't want to feel pressured but I do find it useful to know what those I trust experienced or how they might approach a situation in my position.

Your photos are stunning.

Charlotte April 15, 2010 at 9:51 AM  

So glad you posted this as V has just cut his first tooth - he has started grinding his gums while feeding and a couple of times has resulted in me yanking him off out of shock!

My new Health Visitor is incredibly opinionated - kept referring to me as 'mother' and telling me off for co-sleeping, baby-led weaning etc. When she said 'well mother, I'm sure you think you know best' I had to point out that noone had researched, prayed and worried about my baby as much as I had.

Charlotte xx

Hyacynth April 15, 2010 at 9:19 PM  

Wonderful post. Mommy insticts are so much stronger than all the advice or book reading in the world. You knew. You responded appropriately. I love it when mothers can tune into their inner understanding. After all, if you're not the expert on your child, who is?

Beth Simmons April 15, 2010 at 11:56 PM  

This is a great post! Obviously, I am past this stage. However, I love how you have advised young mothers to search out reliable info and make decisions that work for them and their family. On a side note, I always stuck to strict nap and bedtimes too! People had a lot to say about it back then too:) It just worked for my kids.

jessica April 17, 2010 at 7:56 AM  

It makes me sad to think of all the women who have had to wean for the wrong reasons...recently, Lily's latching has gotten lazy--or perhaps it was from me being tentative (yep, we had a few bites too) and my right side is killing me. Looks like we need a bit of latch fixing too! I'm constantly doubting myself as a mother, but breastfeeding is the one thing I do that I feel confident and sure about. It's just such love.