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Do You Love Nursing?

See peeps, here’s the thing:

I don’t love nursing. Never have, really.

Yes, there are times I enjoy nursing, and there are definitely times it’s convenient. I am always grateful that I have milk for my babies, and especially when they’re not feeling well. I am also extremely grateful that I have never had to feed my babies  powdered cows’ milk from a factory.

But . . . that doesn’t mean I love nursing.

I nurse for three simple reasons:

  1. It’s healthy. For mother and baby. Physically, emotionally, psychologically.
  2. It means my babies *don’t* get formula – which has its own set of risks, unrelated to how much a mother breastfeeds.
  3. I believe that parenting may not always be fun, but that does not mean that we don’t have to act responsibly. I believe that choosing not to breastfeed, even though you *can* (physically – meaning, you have milk available) and are healthy enough to do so (no bodily-fluid-transmitted diseases, no medicines that preclude breastfeeding) is choosing to take the easy way out. I believe that supplementing with processed cows’ milk powder is harmful unless it is medically necessary. I believe that choosing either of those options, because it’s easier, more convenient, or whatever other non-health reason, is irresponsible, after all the research that has been done.

So I breastfeed. My minimum is 1 year. Yitzchak thinks 2 is better. Shlomo hated breastfeeding. We stuck it out 14 months, 7 of them only because I gave him no other options. I said, “I don’t care if it makes him mad. When he grows up he will thank me.”

Tova happens to like nursing. She is now older than Shlomo was when he quit nursing. And she shows no sign of wanting to wean.

And me? I’m done. I’m sick of nursing. I am *so* over it. It was fun, kid. But come on, let’s move on with life.

But I won’t stop if she doesn’t want to, because the fact is that the WHO recommends breastfeeding until the age of two. So if she’s happy, we’ll stick it out.

She will have to learn not to stick her hands down my shirt, or pull my shirt up and stick her hands in my belly button. And she will have to learn that no, I will not nurse her if the last time she nursed was an hour (or two, or three, or five) ago. She dropped down to two nursings a day – morning and evening – and I am sticking with it.

And as much as I want to nurse tandem, I’m beginning to think that I should wean her before the next one comes along. Why should the next baby suffer because Mom has been nursed-out by an older sibling? Doesn’t seem fair to me.

In the meantime, however, we will stick it out. And we’ll just have to wait and see what happens next.

But no, people. I nurse because breastmilk is healthy and formula is a medicine that is meant to be given only under certain circumstances – no matter how much society and formula companies may brainwash you otherwise.

I nurse because as a parent. sometimes we all have to do things that are difficult, annoying, hurt, or just that we’d rather not do. Because that’s what being a parent is. Choosing your kid over your comfort.

Even if nursing is sometimes *very* uncomfortable. (I should know . . . 2.5 months of tongue tie, 6+ months with a cracked nipple, two months of tender nipples that don’t want to be touched, much less sucked on . . . yeah, I know. So?)

 

Mastitis

In honor of breastfeeding support week, I share my (hopefully finished) mastitis story.  Let it be known that in over a year of nursing Shlomo, I did not have one case of mastitis.  Even when I changed his feeding schedule from every 3.5 hours to every 6 hours, in one day.

However, Shlomo did not have tongue tie, and Tova’s tongue tie apparently still leaves its marks, even after we clipped her tongue.  On one side, she nurses too hard.  A few months ago, when we were going through a super-duper-stressful period, I had no energy to correct her latch, didn’t care about the pain (because I had much more important things to care about), and soon, instead of just reddish-purple lines, I had actual cuts in the nipple.  And they just got deeper.

No surprise, then, that a few weeks later, I ended up with my first case of mastitis (in the doctor’s words, the germs were having a discotek in my milk ducts).  At first I thought I was simply engorged, but then it didn’t get better, there was a red spot that changed size, disappeared, and came back, and I felt really sick.  When I couldn’t lift my left hand, and had a fever of 38.5, I took myself the next day to the doctor, who gave me a miracle drug: Augmentin.  Within twelve hours, I was feeling worlds better.  Within 24 hours, the pain was almost gone.  Within 48 hours, I was practically good as new.  This continued for two weeks, and then I ran out of antibiotics . . . but the deep cuts were still there.  Sure enough, about two weeks later, there I was back at the doctor, with my second bout of mastitis.  This time, the doctor didn’t believe it right away, because I had come too early, with not enough clear symptoms.

He sent me to a surgeon and told me to take Tylenol.  I managed to freak myself out about IBC, but the surgeon checked everything, including my shoulders and neck, and didn’t find anything (thank G-d!).  The next week, still suffering, I went to an after-hours clinic, where the doctor still didn’t think I had mastitis, and told me to see a breast surgeon, but gave me a week’s worth of antibiotics “because I said it was getting worse”.  Well, the Augmentin worked magic, again.  And I got really scared that a week wasn’t enough, and I was in for a third bout, as soon as the antibiotics had worn off.

Unfortunately, I was right.  However, thankfully, this time the red spot was huge (in a different spot, but same breast) and unmistakable.  I also got a different doctor, because it was my regular doctor’s day off.  This doctor was younger and more laid-back, and when I asked for three weeks of antibiotics so that the cut could close, he gave them to me, telling me that maybe I should take probiotics because three weeks is a long time.

I went home (I had to nurse), and Yitzchak ran out to the pharmacy to fill the prescription . . . except that he forgot the prescription at home.  The pharmacist told him to go into the clinic and ask another doctor to print it out.  Well, as it turns out, the last doctor of the day to leave was our amazing, much-loved pediatrician.  When she saw that I had been given three weeks worth of Augmentin, she was in shock.  Yitzchak says that her expression said, “This guy should be sued!”  She couldn’t touch the prescription that he had given me, so she gave me one herself: 10 days of Augmentin and a lanolin-based nipple cream called Rafael New Mother’s Ointment.  She said that after the ten days were up, there are ways to keep the mastitis at bay.  I guess some of those are natural remedies, but I didn’t look them up.

What I ended up doing was that two days after I finished the antibiotics, I fished out the old prescription and sent Yitzchak to fill it.  The pharmacist wrinkled her nose at a prescription for antibiotics that was nearly two weeks old, so Yitzchak explained it, and she gave me 11 more days of antibiotics (10+11=21).  Very soon, I was too stressed to remember to take them twice a day, and eventually settled on one a day, at night, with my vitamin.  So far, so good.  Except that my nipple is still not healed, and it’s been more than three weeks.  Hopefully, by the time I finish my one-a-day regimen, it will be healed enough that I don’t get mastitis again.  I actually thought it was getting better, but wouldn’t you know, in the past two days, Tova has managed to make it worse again.  I don’t think the cut is as deep as it used to be, though, so maybe, just maybe, there is hope.

Lessons:

  1. Don’t get lazy about proper latch.  Even when you’re super-duper stressed.
  2. Tongue tie, sore nipples, cracked nipples, and mastitis are all connected.
  3. Thank G-d, if antibiotics work, it means that there’s nothing more serious.

By the way: Every woman should have an annual breast examination by a qualified surgeon.  Some women should be examined every six months.  And yes, this applies even to twenty-year-olds.  Because, prevention is the best medicine.  You can do these examinations when you are pregnant or nursing; just inform the surgeon of the situation.

The Final Trek – Consulate, Part 3

If you remember, two months ago we went to get Tova’s Report of Birth Abroad, and to request social security cards for both Shlomo and Tova.  We were told that Tova needed a passport, and that I needed to bring Shlomo’s birth certificate in, and since I was short ten shekels to have the Report of Birth Abroad delivered to our home, I decided to do both things at once, and come back.

That was two months ago, and today I have just come back from the consulate, having accomplished both of the above goals.  What happened in these past two months?

Well, first of all, we were told that the report of birth would be ready in a week or two.  Not willing to travel all the way to Jerusalem only to find out that it wasn’t ready, I called two and a half weeks after our appointment, thinking that enough time would have passed that they would definitely have the report of birth waiting for us.  The call didn’t go through.  So I called again, a different day.  On the third try, someone answered, told me that they couldn’t help me, and told me to email the consulate.  I went online, found the email address, and emailed.

Two days later, I got an email saying that it was ready, and that I could pick it up on a Tuesday or Friday, between the hours of 12 and 2pm.  Wow, good thing I emailed!  When I was last there, I was told I could come in any day, any time, to pick up the documents.  But apparently, they changed the rules.  Which kind of makes sense, given the fact that they changed the appointment-making system, too, annoyingly enough.  Now, you have to email them with date and time preferences, as well as all the forms and documents, and they get back to you with an appointment.  Very annoying.

This left us, three weeks after our appointment, in a difficult position of having to go ONLY on a Tuesday or Friday, and if we didn’t make it out early enough – missing the opportunity entirely.  Now, Tuesday does happen to be my day off, but because of that, there is always something that needs to happen that day.  A couple of times I wanted to go, but something came up last minute.  If it hadn’t been an only-Tuesday thing, Yitzchak would’ve gone a long time ago.  In fact, we happened to be in Jerusalem, about a month ago, for two Shabbats in a row – but the first one didn’t work out (don’t remember why), and on the second one, I got lost because I tried to take a faster bus, and then got there too late.  That was over a month ago, and the month that has passed since we have tried not to travel, simply because we have been forced to travel way too often, and we needed time at home.

Today, again, was a Tuesday, and I decided sometime last week that I was going to go today.  Of course, as luck would have it, Yitzchak ended up needing to take Shlomo into Be’er Sheva today.   I considered having Yitzchak go to the consulate instead of me, but dragging two kids by myself to gan, back, and dealing with them on my own until 5 or 6pm didn’t sound too great.  Plus, like I told Yitzchak, if I go, I don’t have to worry about what might happen to him.

We got onto the bus to Jerusalem, and Tova and I fell asleep.  We just missed the bus to the consulate, so I waited, took the “faster” bus, had the same thing happen, got off the “fast” bus and got on the right bus, and finally made it in.  The citizen services window was closed, so I went to the non-citizen, visa window.  Weird.  Then they took my cell phone, charger, camera, and USB device, x-rayed my back and checked it manually, and told me to leave the stroller by the door.

I went in, no numbers this time, and went up to the window to ask for my documents.  The guy at the window told me he’s not sure he can drop off the social security forms.  What do you mean, you can’t?  Nolan Klein said I can, and he’s the vice consul.  Look at the back of the slip, he wrote that I can, signed it, and stamped it!  But, of course, I didn’t say any of this, because the next thing that the window-guy said was, “When was this?”  I said, “A while ago,’ and he looked at the papers and said, “A long while ago.  I don’t think I can do it, but I have to ask my boss.”

In the end, he took the papers for the social security cards.  My passport, Shlomo’s passport, and Tova’s passport, as well as Shlomo’s birth certificate and Tova’s report of birth, were all photocopied.  Previously, they had photocopied both Yitzchak’s passport and mine, but this time they only took mine.  I double-checked that it was okay and would still go through, and they said it was.  So all we have to do now is pray.  Because it can take six months (this time I heard eight) to get the papers, I asked what would happen if we moved in the middle.  We don’t have any plans to move, but I asked just in case.  They gave me a paper with the email of the social security on it, and said that if we move, we need to update them.  Sigh.

At the consulate, there was one woman who needed her emergency passport for her flight tomorrow morning; and a mother and daughter who needed their emergency passports for their flight three hours from then (in other words, it took off three hours ago).  When I had finished my business, I asked the mother and daughter to hold Tova for a minute so that I could use the bathroom.  When I saw the huge wheelchair stall, I thought, “What a shame!  I could’ve brought her in with me!” until I remembered that I couldn’t, because the stroller had been parked at the gate.  Oh, well.

We got out of there, waited for a bus to the central station, just missed a bus back to Be’er Sheva, and then slept on the bus.  With a baby and a big bag, I didn’t feel like sharing a seat, because I knew I’d need both spots.  If Yitzchak had been with me, I wouldn’t have minded sharing, but whoever would have sat next to me wouldn’t have let me change diapers with the baby half on her and half on me, wouldn’t have liked my elbow or the baby’s feet taking up some of their personal space during a nursing session, wouldn’t have held the baby so that I could reach down and get stuff out of the bag at my feet, or given me what I needed from the bag without having to bend over double with a baby (if you share a seat, your bag goes on the floor; if you have two seats, your bag goes on the seat next to you, and if you have only one hand free, that’s a world of a difference), and wouldn’t have taken care of my bag so that I could hold Tova, or taken Tova so that I could have a break.  Sooo . . . since three and a half hours had passed since she had last nursed, I plopped the bag in the window seat, took out a cloth diaper, plopped myself and Tova in the aisle seat, and started nursing.  Yep.  The bus was nearly overstuffed, but anyone looking for a seat just glanced at us and moved on to look for something else.  In other words, it worked.*  And I don’t feel bad, either.  On the bus from Be’er Sheva, I had to share a seat.  The lady next to me was nice, but it was squishy, I had no space, Tova was bouncing all over, I couldn’t even put my bag by my feet for lack of space and lack of hands, and while it was cute for forty-five minutes, I don’t know how I would’ve passed an hour and forty-five minutes that way.  So, sorry guys, but I’m not sorry.

I would’ve gotten something to eat while I was in Jerusalem, but I was just going from bus to bus, and by the time I had half an hour (because I had just missed a bus), I had no energy to walk around, wait in line, find something, and then run back before the bus left.  I figured to give myself ten minutes to get to the bus stop, which would have left me with fifteen or twenty.  Chumus and crackers, or anything requiring two hands, was out of the question.  And finding something edible, fast, that only required one hand – too much work.

So, I have only had two cups of hot chocolate today and some water.  I’ve been up since six in the morning, and it’s now 7:15pm.  And I’m too tired to get up and figure out what to make now, even though I’m home.  Yitzchak went vegetable shopping (which means there’s nothing worth eating until he gets back), and pretty soon I have to leave for the school’s end-of-year party.  I hate parties, but I feel like I should be there for my students.

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*This would not have worked with a bottle, because maneuvering with a bottle is infinitely easier.  Also, when people see someone breastfeeding, they immediately think, “She can’t move easily,” but when you are bottle feeding, you are simply holding a bottle as well as a baby.  Therefore, I can’t see myself as having been able to pull this off if I were bottle-feeding.  Actually, I have a story to prove this point, but that’s for another post.  The point is, breastfeeding is terrifically convenient.

Extended Breastfeeding: Until What Age?

Breastfeeding is the normal, natural, and ideal (and only truly side-effect free) way to nourish babies until the age of one year.  It is also an ideal nutritional supplement that mothers should strive to give their babies until those babies turn two (and I admit, at this I flunked, breastfeeding advocate as I may be; I nursed Shlomo until he was 14 months, at which time I let him quit).

But until what age is breastfeeding normal and acceptable?

Yitzchak’s older brother, Be’eri, nursed until his third birthday.  A few weeks before his birthday, his mother started saying, “Be’eri, soon it’s your birthday.  You’re going to be three years old.  Three years old is a big boy, and big boys don’t nurse.”  She said this over and over again, and on the morning of Be’eri’s birthday, he came over and asked to nurse.  Mom said, “Be’eri, today is your birthday!  You’re three years old!  Three years old is a big boy – ” and Be’eri finished, “and big boys don’t nurse,” with a sad face.  He turned around and walked away . . . and never asked again.

When I was born, I didn’t immediately gain weight at the pace the doctor thought was necessary.  Because my mother was an ignorant, first-time mother who had her kids before the Internet Age, she didn’t have access to the wealth of information that first-time mothers often have access to today.  When I didn’t gain weight, they told her to add formula, and she did.  Thereafter, I apparently decided that nursing was too hard (typical, by the way, for formula-supplemented babies) and it slowly tapered off.  I nursed either three months, six weeks, or six months – apparently, memories aren’t exact. FTR: I don’t blame my mother for this, although I am kind of peeved that I missed out on something so important because of a lack of information and/or misinformation.

But Esther, the sister immediately after me, didn’t gain weight, either.  Except that the doctor looked at the chart, looked at my mother, and said, “Your first was this way, too, right?  Go ahead and keep nursing.”  And she did.  (You’re welcome, Esther.  I missed out, and you gained from it.  In many more ways than just this one.  But that’s the price every firstborn pays, isn’t it?) Esther nursed the longest of all of us – two and a half years.

Shira, too, nursed a long time.  She liked nursing and would ask to “nack-n-nurse” – a word derived from my mother’s question, “Do you want a snack (in which case, you can have one, but not me) or do you want to nurse (i.e., really nurse, not two minutes and that’s it)?”  I think Shira nursed until she was two and a quarter.  I don’t remember until what age Noach and Ari nursed, but I’m pretty sure at some point Noach was supplemented with formula (we bought formula and new bottles for Pesach), though I’m not sure why.

In other words, both Yitzchak and I grew up with extended nursing as a normal, natural part of life.  One you talked about anecdotally, but didn’t see as out of the ordinary or something to think about.

When I saw a mother nursing a two+ year old on the light rail train a few years ago, I was impressed.  She told me, slightly embarrassed, that this is the only way she can calm him down, and that she often hears that he’s too old.  I told her, honestly, that I was very impressed, and admired her.  I told her that the longer they nurse, the better off they are, and that she’s really good for keeping it up despite what people say.  I also told her that I was also getting comments about how long I nursed my baby (Shlomo, who was betwen six months and 14 months at the time), and that I thought people were just jealous.  She laughed and said that was probably true.

So far, so good.

Nursing till two is ideal according to WHO; nursing till three or five has a lot of benefits.  But where do we draw the line?  Every once in a while, there’s a story about a mother who is nursing a five year old, six year old, or eight year old.  I would assume that no one is nursing a high school or college student, and no one is still nursing her engaged or married son or daughter.  Definitely, no one who is pregnant themselves is still nursing from their own mother – I think.

Again, where is the line?  If nursing a two year old is ideal, and nursing a three year old is beneficial, why is nursing a four, five, or six year old problematic?  See, in my mind, a four year old nursling is kind of odd, but totally a good thing; a five year old nursling is weird, and a six year old is just . . . huh?!?!  What happened there?

But those ages are random, aren’t they?  And what about the mother who nursed her six year old, and later realized that the six year old’s autism had been immeasurably helped by the fact that she had nursed so long?  Why is 4 years, 364 days, acceptable – but 5 years, 0 days, is not acceptable?

In other words, where do we draw the line?  And why do we choose to make that age the maximum limit for the duration of normal breastfeeding?

And, perhaps more importantly, why are we posting pictures and articles on news sites every time we hear about a mother who nursed a single child for more than three years?  Why does it spark such a hot debate, and why is everybody so up-in-arms about it?

I agree, breastfeeding needs publicizing and normalizing, especially after decades, perhaps even centuries, of formula propaganda.  But is publicizing breastfed six year olds helping the cause or hurting it?

And another question: When we say “extended nursing,” are we talking about nursing past the age of twelve months, past the age of two years, or something else?  I guess it all depends on what “normal nursing” would be.

When is Baby Ready for Solid Foods?

When Shlomo was a baby, we decided to give him solid food only at 6 months.  Not 5 months and 2 weeks, but six months, to the day, or perhaps plus a day or two.  After all, nursing babies don’t need solid food before then; the range of 4-6 months is because, until recently, formula-fed babies were thought to need solids from 4 months, regardless of whether their digestive system was completely ready for it.  (Recently, the guidelines have changed, and the new guidelines say to start solids only at six months, regardless of whether the baby is breastfed or formula fed.)  And so six months it would be.

Honestly, four to six months is an estimate.  Just like not every baby smiles at six weeks exactly, not every baby is born on their due date, and not every baby crawls at the same time – so, too, not every baby’s digestive system is ready for solids at exactly the same time, either.  The 4-6 months for starting solids is a general guideline; even though, as a general rule, you won’t hurt your baby by giving them solids at five months and one week, it doesn’t mean that that’s what’s absolutely best for your specific baby.

If so, how will you know when to give your baby solids?

When Shlomo was five months old, we went to visit my family, in Canada.  When he fussed after a feeding, my mother, always wanting to get to the fun stuff, give advice, and catch a “first” before we went back home, told us that he needed solids.  He was five months and a few days, and we said no.  He might want it – in fact, he definitely wanted it – but he didn’t need it.

When Shlomo was five months and one week, my family went to visit a lakeside cottage; we had been invited to go with, but the technical details did not work out, and so we stayed behind, with my grandmother, cousins, and Esther, who also couldn’t go for technical reasons.  During the week that followed, Shlomo suddenly stopped sleeping as well as usual, stopped pooping during the day, and when he woke up at night and pooped, it was this weird poop (Yitzchak says it was “foamy”) that leaked all over.  After a few days of this, Yitzchak picked up the phone and called his mother (ahem, ahem).  She listened to the description and said, “Sounds like he’s ready for solids.  Try giving him banana first and then oatmeal; those are two foods that practically nobody reacts to.”

I was peeved.  I had wanted to wait until six months.  Helloo, the baby’s gut takes about six months to fully close.  But I told myself that evidently Shlomo’s gut was showing signs of readiness two weeks early, and five months, two weeks, was still pretty good.  We went out, bought some bananas, opened one partially, took a spoon, scraped some banana onto the spoon, and fed it to Shlomo (how I miss the banana-scraping days; oh, wait, we’ll soon be back there).

Abracadabra – that night, he went back to sleeping normally, pooping normally, and all was well.  My mother had her wish (kind of; I don’t think she was wishing that this would happen while she was away vacationing), and my best-mother complex had taken a slight, but not too serious, hit.  We took bananas with us on the plane home, and fed them to our five-months-two-and-a-half-week-old.  Shlomo’s first solid foods had been eaten not at home, but at his great-grandmother’s house.  (And he loved it, by the way.)

This, then, is the answer: Your baby’s gut is ready for solid food when they don’t poop on their regular schedule, their poop is weird foam, and they’re not sleeping well.

Lately, Tova has been pooping later and later in the day, and making only one or two poops, as opposed to her usual three or four.  They are also very liquidy, instead of the regular seedy.  Is this her version of foam?  Or should we wait?  For the moment, we are waiting.  We have time; there’s no rush.

Plus, there are three very nice advantages to breastmilk-only poop: 1. You don’t have to take her out of a synagogue, or stop praying, just because she made a poop.  2. Most (95%) of the poop that gets on her clothes doesn’t leave any kind of mark, even without stain treatment.  Of the remaining 5%, if I put stain remover onto it once, it comes out 99% of the time.  Which means that between two breastfed kids, I have maybe two or three garments that were stained, truly stained, by breastmilk poop. 3. Ditto for breastmilk spit-up – I don’t think I’ve had to use stain remover at all.

In other words, I really like the convenience of my baby’s bodily fluids not staining anything.  And I will miss that when we add solids.  On the other hand, after they start solids, the poop becomes more solidified and they spit up less.  So it kind of (but not quite) evens out . . . right?

Formula: Sometimes, Medically Necessary

When?

Well, once upon a time, the gene for not being able to produce breastmilk was pretty rare.  If a woman couldn’t produce enough milk, she needed a wet nurse.  Wet nurses were expensive, though.  So if she didn’t have the money, and didn’t have the milk – well, let’s just say the gene wasn’t passed on to the next generation.  Survival of the fittest, did we say?  Perhaps of the richest, who often used a wet nurse even when it wasn’t necessary, to spare Mom the “burden” of breastfeeding.

Over the centuries, many tried and failed to find a substitute for human milk.  The formula we have today is the grandchild of the earliest experiments at alternative feeding; usually these alternative methods resulted in infant mortality within the first year; some from the food itself and some from bad hygiene.  In other words, it is the grandchild of the first non-toxic formula.  Obviously, back then, no one gave formula unless the baby didn’t have a mother, or the mother had not a drop of milk and no one to nurse her baby.

Since the age of barely non-toxic formulas, we’ve come a long way.  We’ve come so far, in fact, that unless you know a person’s medical history, it’s hard to guess which kids were formula fed and which were breastfed.

In other words, formula does a pretty good job of enabling these babies to grow, develop normally, and have a great chance at a good life.

That doesn’t mean, though, that formula is for everybody.  Formula isn’t human milk, and because of that, it wasn’t made for human babies.  However terrific a job it does at compensating for the lack of breastmilk, it still isn’t the ideal baby food.  Formula is like medicine.  In many ways, it IS medicine.  It was made for certain situations, and in those situations, it literally saves thousands, if not millions, of lives.  But just like you don’t give your child penicillin if he doesn’t have an infection, you shouldn’t give your child formula if he doesn’t absolutely need it.  Giving either of them too frequently, and without just cause, can have unwanted results. But, that’s not the topic of this post.

With the advent of good infant formula, a lot of babies survive who wouldn’t have had a chance previously.  With the advent of successful fertility treatments, and good prenatal monitoring, a lot of babies are born who wouldn’t have had a chance to be otherwise.  Combine these factors together, including the fact that if a couple’s infertility is female-factor, the same hormones that made pregnancy difficult may make lactation impossible – and there you have it, growing numbers of mothers and babies who are simply unable to breastfeed.

And – that’s fine.  In fact, it’s great.  It is absolutely terrific that these mothers are able to have babies, and that these babies are able to survive.  It’s a modern-day miracle, and one that we all have to be thankful for.

Again, the problem isn’t formula.  The problem is the abuse of formula. Let’s take a look at some possible contraindications to breastfeeding:

– As usual, mother has no milk.  By no milk I mean that she tried supplements, she tried dietary adjustments, she went to lactation consultants, she nursed and pumped around the clock to raise supply – and no luck.  Nothing doing.  The mother who suffers from this often feels inferior, because she feels betrayed by her body and unable to give her baby its most basic necessity – food.

– The baby who cannot form a vacuum.  This is usually fixable by some surgical procedure (yes, even clipping a tongue is technically a surgical procedure, even more so fixing a cleft palate), and until then, the mother has to stick it out by pumping and/or nursing.  Many mothers, too many, give up prematurely.  (There, but for my research, go I.)

– The mother who is taking a medication that is incompatible with breastfeeding, and there is no breastfeeding-compatible medicine available for her.

– The baby who is lactose intolerant, including lactose from human milk.  Sometimes this is fixable by a change in the mother’s diet.  Sometimes, no matter what the mother eats or doesn’t eat, the baby reacts.

– The baby whose mother got pregnant only a few months postpartum.  While this doesn’t mean that you have to stop nursing, if the baby is less than nine months old, chances are high that supplements will be needed.  Sometimes, the baby will start eating more solids.  Sometimes, if the baby isn’t old enough for solids or refuses, formula will be necessary.  Here I want to add that for the first two or three months of pregnancy, the milk stays suitable for the older baby.  Around week 16-20, it begins to turn into colostrum, and possible supply will decrease.  Again, any breastfeeding is better than none, and even if supplements are necessary for a few months, when the baby is born, the mother can dump the supplements in the trash and nurse tandem.

– The baby whose mother chose a method of birth control that is incompatible with breastfeeding.

– The mother who is hospitalized without being given an opportunity to pump.

– The mother who was given bad advice by medical or lactation “professionals”.

– The baby who has no mother.

There are probably more, but these are the main, basic, categories that come to mind right now.

Let me ask a question: Why aren’t there more banks for human milk?  At the moment, at least in Israel, there is a government-supervised bank, but the milk goes mostly to preemies, gastro-intestinally compromised babies, or babies without a mother.  Why can’t a “normal” baby get donor milk?

Some of you will say that it’s gross.  Well, I have news: Birth is gross.  Changing diapers is gross.  For goodness’ sake, any bodily fluid is gross.  Well, except breastmilk, in my mind; it tastes okay and it’s good for you (I tried a drop of my milk so that I’d know the difference between good milk and sour milk).  What grosses most people out, I think, is the idea of sharing the breastmilk.  But think of it this way: When you need a blood transfusion, do you say, “Ewww, gross, that blood was in someone else’s body?”  Of course not.  So, why is it gross to use donor milk?  As long as the donor is healthy – and if she is willing to feed the milk to her own kid, I think that she can pretty much be trusted – there’s no reason why not.  The only difference between donor milk and the wet nurses of old is that donor milk can be fed to the baby by its parents, while a wet nurse took all the responsibility on herself.

So, now there are Facebook groups and community milk banks.  But they aren’t widely enough spread, they don’t have enough donors, and not enough recipients are aware of them, or willing to use them.  But if formula, in the mind of someone who tried to breastfeed and couldn’t, is a sign of failure, why is donor milk worse?  It’s better – no, you couldn’t breastfeed yourself, but you still made sure that your child got breastmilk.

I think society needs a change of mindset.

Formula is a legitimate choice for those mothers who cannot breastfeed, or whose babies are unable to breastfeed.  Formula is a very, very, good thing, as long as it is not abused.  Those mothers who use it without medical necessity ruin how society views formula for those who have a legitimate need to use it.

Those who need formula should not have to pay the inflated price formula companies ask.  It is not fair, it is not just, to force someone who has no other option to pay an outrageous fee, for that many containers a year.  Formula that is medically necessary should be hugely subsidized.  Formula that is not medically necessary should be off the shelves.

Breastmilk, even donated breastmilk, is better than formula.  Feeding someone else’s breastmilk to your baby is not a sign of failure but a sign of courage and dedication.

Breastfed babies are the norm, not the exception.  Breastfeeding needs to be accepted and encouraged, not something shameful and disgusting.  I am not for a woman exposing her entire front and side on a park bench.  I am for women being able to sit and nurse, modestly and decently (I don’t use a blanket, but between the blouse and the t-shirt underneath, no one sees anything), in public places.  Without worrying if they will be yelled at, without feeling that the whole world is staring at them, without worrying about a smoker coming to sit down next to them (and then they are either stuck second-hand smoking for half an hour, or they have to get up and move in the middle), and without having to walk ten minutes, with a screaming, hungry, baby, to find a place to nurse.

Pumping should be legitimate and supported, especially for working mothers.  It should not be easier for a mother to switch to formula when she goes back to work, especially since, in the long run, it costs us all money.

Society needs a change.  But it won’t happen if we play Ostrich.

 

 

Why Do Mothers Choose to Formula-Feed?

During my maternity leave, I went back to an old hobby of mine – reading about baby feeding, health, and development.  Probably, all of you know on which side of the breastfeeding – formula feeding divide I very firmly stand.  That said, it irks me a lot when people say, “The most important thing is a happy mother; if breastfeeding is too hard for you, it’s better to just give your baby formula and quit nursing, as long as you’re not stressed out.”  Which, by the way, is bunk.  Then there are those who say that mothers who choose, from the outset, to add formula, care just as much about their babies, and do not do it for convenience but for the baby’s sake.

I’ll let Alpha Parent say it; here’s a quote from her post comparing past and present in baby feeding:

Self-interest is still quoted as the prime reason for not breastfeeding. From the UK Department of Health Infant Feeding survey (which involves around 8000 mothers and is done every 5 years): “The most common reason for choosing to breastfeed was that breastfeeding was best for the baby’s health, followed by convenience. The most common reason for choosing to bottle-feed was that it allowed others to feed the baby, followed by a dislike of the “idea” of breastfeeding.”

And here’s some more, for those who claim that breastfeeding doesn’t allow you to sleep at night:

Breastfeeding mothers get more sleep and their sleep is of higher quality. A breastfed baby can eat as soon as he is hungry. If co sleeping, that means before the baby even starts to cry. A formula-fed baby has to wait for formula to be prepared and warmed, in the meantime getting more and more distressed and agitated as well as waking others in the household. When breastfeeding, even the mother does not need to wake up fully to nurse her baby. Furthermore, the hormones produced during nursing have a relaxing effect, and the mother is likely to sleep even better when she nurses her baby. Studies have shown that parents of infants who were breastfed in the evening and/or at night slept an average of 40-45 minutes more than parents of infants given formula (Doan et al). Parents of infants given formula at night had more sleep disturbance than parents of infants who were exclusively breast-fed at night.

And for those who think that Dad can feed the baby at night if you formula feed:

I’m sorry to burst SMA’s bubble but as Gabrielle Palmer (The Politics of Breastfeeding, 2009) has pointed out, “The reality is that few fathers actually do take the whole responsibility of infant care and most artificial feeding is still done by mothers”. Pauline Lim, author of the very useful book Teach Yourself Successful Breastfeeding, concurs that:

“In reality few partners actually share the night feeds, so don’t be tempted to stop breastfeeding for this reason. There might be an odd occasion when this happens but the novelty wears off very quickly, leaving you firmly back in charge of the night-feed. This is particularly true when your partner has to get up for work.”

Remember when we were dealing with tongue-tie?  I pumped and went to sleep, and Yitzchak fed her the pumped milk.  Or, sometimes, I just pumped while he fed Tova the previously pumped bottle.  However, this was for a very limited time, until Tova finally learned how to nurse while lying beside me in bed, and Yitzchak did it not because he ideologically believed it was better for him to share the nighttime burden (because there is no question that nursing is better than getting a bottle of pumped milk, no matter how fresh), but because I was so weak, out of it, and barely functioning that he basically had no choice.  It wasn’t easy for Yitzchak and I don’t think we would have been able to keep it up long-term.  Especially since I would wake up when Tova cried and then have to fall back asleep. During those early weeks, however, it was a lifesaver (and you know something is wrong when it’s easier to pump than it is to nurse).

Here’s a study that compares the health of formula fed, or mixed formula and breastmilk fed, babies with those exclusively breastfed for the first six months.  Obviously, any breastfeeding is better than none, but that does not mean that supplementing a breastfed baby with formula does not have any undesirable side effects.  Another thing that should be mentioned is that breastfed babies are not healthier than formula fed babies; rather, formula fed babies are sicker than breastfed babies.

Don’t worry, give me a few days and we will get back to the elections.  We are still waiting on the final 1% of votes to come in, and until they do, nothing is official and the only thing we can do is speculate.

 

A Tongue-Tie Survival Story

Survival?  Well, I don’t know.  But it does sound catchy, and we did make it through with not a single drop of formula.

When the hospital’s pediatrician checked Tova he told Yitzchak, “Just so that you don’t sue me, she has tongue tie.  It shouldn’t cause a problem for nursing and in 90% of cases it doesn’t.”

When Yitzchak brought Tova back to me (note: in Hadassah Ein Karem they don’t separate you for a minute; in Soroka it took two and a half hours before she was brought back to me, during which time Yitzchak was with her for all except five minutes) he told me what the doctor had said.  Angry as I was at how the birth had gone, the birthing-factory treatment (they have 20 delivery rooms and no competing hospitals) and how I was being treated like an idiot (thanks, Soroka), I rolled my eyes, thought, “Oh, great; a nursing mother’s nightmare,” and asked why they hadn’t clipped it.  Yitzchak told me it shouldn’t be a problem, and I hoped that he was right, while reminding myself that he was the sane one at the moment (and I was the exhausted, hormonal one).

After a few days, we brought Tova to the pediatrician because we were concerned about her jaundice.  The jaundice, thank G-d, turned out to be fine, but the pediatrician asked to weigh her (fine by me, since I hadn’t taken her to the well-baby clinic to check her weight yet) and discovered that her weight was not fine; I think she had gained 50g.  We were to come back in three days.

Three days later she had gained only another 30g.

Three days after that, we came back again.  This time, she was already over a week and a half old and hadn’t yet regained her birth weight – and at the rate she was going, we weren’t sure when she would.

At two weeks, she still hadn’t.  I don’t remember when it was, but there was a week in there that Tova gained only 70g – slightly less than half of what she should have gained.

I remember that during this time my mother called and asked how we were doing.  I said we were fine and thank G-d everything was going pretty good.  And as I said it, I thought of how ironic it was.  Shlomo had bronchiolitis (or bronchitis, not sure which) and was on antibiotics.  Tova wasn’t gaining weight and the pediatrician, Dr. R.,  had sent us for a pee test and told me to pump, see how much I got, and then feed her the bottle to see how much she took, and had given us a referral for the ER just in case she did XYZ (don’t remember what).  I was sore, overwhelmed, and dealing with excruciating pain every time I nursed.  Yitzchak and I were barely sleeping, despite being blessed with a baby who, if left to her own devices, will give us a decent night’s sleep.  And with all this, I told my mother I was fine.

Then we did a nursing test.  I brought Tova in, she was weighed, Dr. R. put me in a private room to nurse, and then 40 minutes into the nursing session Tova was weighed again.  To our credit, she had gained 85g.  Not all would stay, obviously, but it meant that she had eaten quite a bit.  Don’t tell the pediatrician, but a good portion of it was squirted into her mouth, since she wasn’t nursing well.  Not that it mattered, of course: the point was to see how much she was getting, and it didn’t really matter which of us was doing the work, as long as it did the job.  To my dismay, the previous day’s “cheating” backfired: I had sent her to be weighed just after a meal, so that the scale would show more.  It wasn’t enough, obviously, and when she was weighed, hungry, the next day it looked like she had “lost” weight.  I didn’t tell Dr. R. why she had “lost” weight; it was enough that to see that she obviously could get enough and officially rule out milk supply as the issue (it wasn’t the issue and I knew that, but we had to prove it).

Several times along the way we were suggested formula – starting in the hospital.  Because even a single bottle of the stuff can do permanent damage to a baby’s gut, Yitzchak and I have started calling formula “medicine”.  It is lifesaving when medically necessary and potentially damaging in any other case. What parent gives their kid medicine when it’s not medically necessary?  And what parent will expose their kid to something even potentially damaging, if there is another option?  Thankfully, our pediatrician was as reluctant as we were to add formula and gave us other options.

The “other options” weren’t fun, though.  The next step was to see if she would gain weight if enough food was forced down.  So, Dr. R. told us to nurse every two hours, maximum every three at night, and come back in two days.  If she hadn’t gained at least 50g – well, let’s not think about that.

We did it.  And thank G-d, she gained 70g in those two days.  In other words, problem found, and it was a simple, easy-to-fix problem.  Tova wasn’t eating enough, and therefore wasn’t gaining enough.  Thank G-d, a million times over, that that was the problem.

However, since she was such a weak nurser, and didn’t want to be nursing so often, each feeding took about an hour.  Every five minutes, we were waking her up.  At one point, I was pumping in the evening, refrigerating the bottle, and Yitzchak was feeding her one of the late-night feedings so that I could sleep a bit.  (After all, I was only three weeks postpartum.)  Other times, Yitzchak gave the bottle I’d pumped earlier, while I pumped a new one.

You know that there’s something wrong when it’s easier to pump than it is to nurse.

Thankfully, I had a hospital-grade pump from Yad Sarah and could easily get 80-90 ml in about 20 minutes (from one side).  Let’s hope that when I go back to work and have to pump, I still have an easy time pumping the amount that she needs.

For a week, I nursed every two hours during the day and every three at night.  Ten feedings a day.

We asked the pediatrician – maybe it’s the tongue tie?  We were told to go to the ENT; the place where he does it, and he himself, will not clip a tongue before the baby is 8-10 months old.

Then it was every two hours during the day and every four at night – for another week.  Nine feedings a day, she said.

Then we got permission to let her sleep – no more than five hours – at night, but we still had to do every two hours during the day. Eight feedings a day; don’t do any less.

Then I realized that the usual postpartum breastfeeding pains had gone away, but Tova was STILL hurting me every time she had nursed.  I managed to keep her from making my nipples bleed, but the dark lines on the tops hadn’t gone away, and my nipples would often continue to hurt for an hour after each feeding – which in those days, meant that the side I had nursed on hurt pretty much until the next feeding.

It suddenly occurred to me that maybe her gassiness, my sore nipples, her difficulty gaining weight, and the long nursings, all had a common cause: TONGUE TIE.  I went online, asked if I was on the right track, and asked for referrals.  I was given two names: Dr. C., a surgeon in Be’er Sheva, and Dr. K., a surgeon in Ashkelon.  Be’er Sheva is closer, so Be’er Sheva it was.  I asked for a referral and Yitzchak took her in.  Dr. C., and all of Soroka, will only clip the tongue when the baby is at least a year; we should wait and see if it interferes with her speech development.  Yeah, and what about the nursing?

[Then Tova got a cough and we borrowed a nebulizer from Yad Sarah, bought a mask and saline solution, and “masked” her three times a day for five days.  Dr. R. wanted to see her again just to make sure that she was able to breathe okay.  And we got another list of things to watch for and another just-in-case ER referral.  Thank G-d, these referrals were never necessary.]

Then Dr. R. told us to go the Tipat Chalav (well-baby clinic, where nurses check development and give vaccinations) and that she was officially dismissing us.  Thank G-d.

I made an appointment with the surgeon in Ashkelon.  He, I had heard, would clip the tongue in the clinic, on the spot.  He was on vacation for a few weeks, so I took an appointment the first day he was back.

We went back to the pediatrician to get another referral.  Dr. R. doesn’t like surgeons; she prefers ENTs.  So she went to ask the ENT herself, partially to make sure that it was really impossible and partially because maybe if she asked the answer would be different.  It wasn’t, and she gave us the referral.

In addition, for the past month or so, Tova’s poop had been forest green.  Dr. R. said it could be because she had a cough, but sent us for a stool culture.  Thank G-d, it came back negative and the doctor said we didn’t really need to do it after the color changed back, even if it wasn’t perfect.  But we did it anyways.

So, we went to Ashkelon.  And I took Tova on a bus, by myself, to Ashkelon.  We left at 1:30pm and came back at 7:45pm.  She was two and a half months old, and still taking an hour to nurse.  Both buses were late, so I arrived 40 minutes late.  Thankfully, Dr. K. still took us, and even forgave us after I explained what had happened.  He asked some questions, including one that surprised me – if milk spilled out the side of her mouth while she ate (it did).  Then he checked her tongue, expressing surprise at how far the frenulum was tied, “It’s tied practically to the end.”  (Dr. C. had said it was “borderline”.)

Then he took out a sterile kit with scissors, a long q-tip, and asked me to hold her chin.  Using the q-tip to hold the tongue up, he showed me what he was about to cut, took the scissors, reassured me that the crying was okay and I shouldn’t worry, and clipped.  It took about two minutes.  There was a bit of blood, but after another two minutes it had all but stopped bleeding.  Tova, the sensitive baby that she is, cried hysterically for long after the bleeding stopped.  Dr. K. said that she would calm down when I started nursing – and she did.  I took her to a corner of the waiting room and nursed.

She latched easily.  She sucked fast.  It took 40 minutes, but not 40 minutes like the previous 40 minute nursings had.  Previously, when I stopped after 40 minutes, I felt like she hadn’t finished but didn’t have the energy to argue.  This time, I was pretty sure she’d eaten enough.  And – what had been sore still hurt.  But as any nursing mother knows, previous sore spots and new sore spots feel different.  There were no new sore spots.  And she didn’t leak milk.

I went to the wheelchair bathroom (that’s what you do with a stroller; this one happened to have a change table, too) and changed her diaper, which had leaked.  It had been full before the doctor clipped her tongue, but for obvious reasons, I nursed before changing her.  Since Yitzchak had forgotten to pack me wipes, and I had decided not to ask because obviously he hadn’t forgotten, I had to clean Tova in the sink.

We went home; Tova pooped on the first bus; I nursed her on the second bus, stopped just before I had to get off, and finished nursing her fifteen minutes later when we arrived home.

When we got home, a few things happened:

1. YItzchak changed her diaper – and her poop, which had been green when I changed her diaper in Ashkelon, had suddenly turned mustard yellow again.

2. She went back to nursing for an hour.  Luckily, this was temporary.  Now she nurses for twenty or thirty minutes; more than that happens, but not often.  She can eat every two and a half or three hours.  I am starting to trust Tova to tell me when she’s hungry. But I still want to weigh her again, just to make sure I’m not making a mistake by trusting her.  She still spills milk sometimes, but after she finishes nursing, not while she’s still attached.

3. Nursing didn’t hurt anymore.  After two and a half months of torture – it didn’t hurt anymore!  I’m still in shock, a few weeks later.

I have a life again.  When I was nursing an hour out of every two, this is how my day looked:

Nurse.

Pee and drink OR eat OR shower

Nurse

Sort laundry

Nurse

Poop and eat a bit

Nurse

Shower and get dressed

Nurse

Put in a load of laundry

Nurse

Get the point?

In three words: It Was Awful.

But we did it.  Without a single drop of formula to ruin our baby’s gut.  If I hadn’t read up on the subject of formula, nursing difficulties, and tongue tie, I wouldn’t have made it.

If Yitzchak hadn’t been so helpful and supportive, I wouldn’t have made it.

And next time they tell me in the hospital that my baby has tongue tie, or I see that my baby has tongue tie, I will wait a week to see if the weight gain is normal.  And if it’s not, or the baby isn’t latching well, I will make an appointment with Dr. K. in Ashkelon and take the baby to get its tongue clipped at three weeks instead of at two and a half months.

I tell this story for a few reasons:

1. It is therapeutic for me to write it.  Very therapeutic.  This post has taken me about two hours to write, and I feel so, so, so much better now.

2. If this post helps anyone else, I will have done a lot.

3. I believe that it is important. Important to write about nursing difficulties, important to know that they can be overcome, and important to be educated.

I do not tell this story because I want everyone to know that I, Chana of Little Duckies, gave birth to a tongue-tied baby and am a radical anti-formula mother who insisted that her baby will have no medicine that is not medically necessary.

I would rather be able to choose who I tell my story to and who I do not tell my story to; this choice vanishes the moment I write the story on the internet.

But it is important, it can be done, and if any of you are in Maccabi in the south of Israel, use the “contact me” page and I will try to help you out.  After all, it was another mother online who helped me.

Extremism Sometimes Pays Off

Yes, it does.  Because if you’re extreme about something, you usually know enough to argue your case when necessary.  And you usually are loath enough to agree to any alternative, that you stick to your decision and persevere.

[Sometimes it’s not a good thing to be an extremist.   But sometimes it is.]

Here’s a case in which Yitzchak and I were – are – both extremely glad that I am as extremist as I am.  (And my apologies for not posting for an entire month.  For most of the month, I was slightly out of it.)

I was in the hospital, trying to sleep, with a baby who wouldn’t stop crying every time she was put on her back.  From the leg movements, the reason was quite obvious: gas.  But what can you do when the only place to put the baby is a bassinet, you have no gas medicine, everything is closed, and even if it wasn’t you aren’t allowed to leave the ward?  Answer: Nothing.  You’re stuck holding the baby.

I was so exhausted (and this was nearly entirely the hospital’s fault) that I felt like I was about to drop her.  I’m not a person who cries easily, but I was crying then.  I just needed another pair of hands, and Yitzchak’s (even if he had been allowed to stay overnight, which he wasn’t, strange as it may be) weren’t available; he had to be close to home to pick Shlomo up from the neighbor’s in the morning.  And more than that, he needed to rest, because he had slept even less than me and had to take Shlomo to gan in the morning.

I refrained from calling Yitzchak, even though he had told me to call if I needed support, and just sent text after text, knowing that he would see them only in the morning.  One of the sentences I kept saying over and over [to myself, and to Yitzchak, before he went to sleep,] was, “Dang it/sheesh, I just need another pair of hands that I can trust won’t give her formula.  And I don’t know that I can trust the nurses.”

At about 3am, a nurse came in and we had the following conversation:

Nurse: Hi, is everything okay?

Me: Everything’s okay. (Except that she’s crying and I don’t know what to do, I can’t hold her for fear of dropping her or falling asleep over her; I need to sleep and there’s no one to hold her, and every time I put her down, she cries because she’s gassy.)

Nurse: She’s been crying a lot tonight.

Me: Yeah, she’s gassy. (Wow, thanks for stating the obvious.  Are you offering to hold her so that I can sleep?  Can I even trust you?)

Nurse: Maybe she’s hungry?

Me: No, she just ate.

Nurse: But she’s only nursing.

Me: Yes, but she’s not hungry, she just ate.

Nurse: She’s nursing, so she’s hungry.  Maybe you should give her a supplement?

Me: No, she’s not hungry.  (I knew I couldn’t trust you!  Thanks for telling me that I made the right choice in choosing not to ask for help.*)

Nurse: You sure you don’t want to give her a supplement?

Me: Yes, I’m sure.  She’s gassy, she’s not hungry. (And formula isn’t a solution to anything; it’s just bad.  Plus, she only needs 5cc at the moment, and she got it.)

The nurse left.  And I cried and texted Yitzchak, who, when he read the text at 5:30 in the morning, was furious at the nurse.

Yitzchak took Shlomo to gan, and then came with the carseat and a pair of hands to relieve me.  He was going to bring gas medicine (Simicol) but after speaking with Mom decided not to (because it isn’t really for babies under a week old.)

But seriously, if I wasn’t so dead-set that formula is a medicine to be used only when medically necessary (baby doesn’t have a mother, baby is lactose intolerant, mother doesn’t have milk or for some reason her milk is contaminated), and is permanently damaging in every other case, then I probably would have given in.

And then there was the nurse that told me that babies don’t get gassy before the fourth day – to which the response was a prompt [huge] burp.

Well-meaning, yes.  But definitely not that helpful.

And if I didn’t know better, I KNOW that I would have given in.  I know, because the only thing holding me back was the knowledge of the potential dangers that even a single bottle of formula can pose.

Extreme?  Maybe.

But it worked.

And continued working despite the issues that cropped up afterwards.

Because ignorance is not always bliss, and sometimes what you don’t know can hurt you, or your kid.

.

.

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*I believe, as I always have, that rooming-in is the best option, and I still believe it.  I also think – or rather, know – that if the delivery room staff, and protocols, had been different, I would not have been nearly so exhausted.  In other words, despite the difficulty presented here, I do not believe that it is good for the baby to be in a nursery, separated from its mother, just after being born; in fact, I believe the exact opposite.

A Mother in Israel

I found A Mother in Israel‘s blog a couple years ago, but didn’t think it too extraordinary.  Now, I found it again, and for the past couple days, whenever I had any free time (after I finished working, of course, and while Shlomo was sleeping or playing happily without me), I read it.  Unfortunately, I think I’ve been leaving too many comments, but that doesn’t take away from the site’s amazingness.

Read it.  Especially the posts on breastfeeding.

(You can also find the answer to why I don’t think Shlomo is losing out by not going to daycare.  It’s a question I get a lot, but am too dumbstruck by the question to properly answer.  On her site, “gan” is preschool, and “misgeret” is framework.)