Archive | September, 2011

Staying Attached in a Detached World

30 Sep

As I move toward more frequent blogging, I am bringing some of my posts over from my “retired” blog - The Canadian Lactivist.  Here is one of my recent posts about Attachment Parenting.

It was so easy for me to be an attached mama when my babies were… babies. They were with me almost every second until the age of one and beyond. I fed them from my breast, wore them and slept with them. I listened to their cues, followed their lead, and loved every moment. I was THAT mom, you know, the one who didn’t use an exersauser, playpen, swing, crib, etc.

I rarely had doubts about what I was doing, but there were so many nay sayers out there, wanting to let me know, in that subtle yet not so subtle way, that I was ruining my kid (s).

Everything that I have ever read about attachment theory and attachment parenting says that a strong attachment in infancy leads to a more secure person later on. My daughter performed the role of Gretl in the Mirvish production of the Sound of Music in Toronto for a year (I’ll save my stage mom stories for another time). She started when she was five. I remember the children’s director talking to me one day during rehearsals about my daughter. She mentioned how my daughter was a pro – listening to the directors and chaperones, picking up the songs quickly, working hard with no complaints, and offering the most insightful little comments. “What did you do?”, she asked. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you”. I wanted to stick out my tongue and say “HA”! to every single person who said “you are holding her too much”, “you shouldn’t sleep with her, she’ll never sleep alone”, “leave that kid for a few hours for some ‘me time’ or she will never be able to get away from you. Ever”. As she marched down that staircase at the Princess of Wales Theatre to Captain Von Trapp’s whistle and stamped her foot telling Maria that she was five years old, I was crying hysterically, proud beyond words that my attached little baby was proving attachement theory right. You make them feel secure at their most pivitol time and they will soar!

I get that my tale is anecdotal and that most kids won’t have that sort of once in a lifetime opportunity, but I wanted to illustrate just how important a strong attachment in infancy is and how it grows and evolves as the child grows and evolves. Attachement parenting does not equal helicopter parenting, it does not equal your kid being your best friend, and it does not equal permissive parenting.

Simply put, attachment parenting is about listening with all of your senses to your babies cues and responding to them respectfully. It doesn’t change as the kids grow older. Sure, you stop nursing at some point, you stop co-sleeping at some point, you stop carrying them around at some point – usually because your child no longer needs these things and communicates that to you. When that happens, your relationships evolves and changes. Your child is secure in the knowledge that you are there, they know this instinctively, and they can spread those wings and run and explore and try and play and know that you will be there for them, the same way you were there when you nursed them, slept with them and carried them.

Under Cover

18 Sep

I wrote an article in 2008 about nursing in public as a guest post for a website that no longer seems to be updated called Wild Parenting.

Here is my article:

From InStyleMoms.com: “Public nursing can be a bit…public. Use one of these stylish cover-ups to help the precious time be a bit more private.”

When my first child was born in 2003, the idea of nursing in front of anyone mortified me. As I navigated through a myriad of breastfeeding issues, including nursing a preemie, I found it stressful and uncomfortable to nurse in public. My daughter was working on her latch, and I was working on making sure that no one caught a glimpse of either my breast or stomach. Not one to stay at home, I spent the early days of breastfeeding with blankets tossed over my baby’s head, nursing in washrooms, and hiding myself away from people every time she was hungry. And she was hungry all the time!

Eventually, my daughter and I got the hang of latching, and I went on to nurse her for three wonderful years. We mastered the art of public breastfeeding; I fed her on demand wherever and whenever. When my son came along in 2007, I nursed him in public from the get go without the use of any sort of cover and without going to any change rooms. Certainly, some hilarity ensued including spraying my friend with breastmilk in the middle of a bookstore, but I was considerably more confident in my ability to breastfeed. I had no qualms about nursing him in public without the use of any sort of cover.

All women, all babies and all breasts are not created equal. What may be simple for one person may be quite difficult for another. When you add cultural factors, personal feelings of the mother, and breastfeeding difficulties such as latching to the mix, it may be quite difficult for a mother to nurse easily in public without a cover, particularly at the beginning of a breastfeeding relationship. If a woman wants to use a nursing cover for her own comfort and without that cover would either stay at home or turn to bottle feeding, then using the cover is an easy choice. It can make a real difference as a woman gains confidence in her body.

Even in the most enlightened of places where no one so much as blinks an eye at public breastfeeding, some women, particularly first-time moms, may feel uncomfortable, simply because they are doing something that they have not done before and exposing more of their body than they may feel comfortable with at the time. We live in a society where breasts are sexualized, and until our society changes, we must accept the fact that some nursing moms feel more comfortable when covered.

But the marketing of nursing covers has gotten out of control.

Cool, chic, hip, modern: all are words that nursing cover companies use to describe moms who use their products. Apparently, if you do not cover your baby in a loud- patterned, $60 cover, you are desperately out of style.

No matter how you fancy it up, a nursing cover is a glorified blanket. It may look like a tent, it may have a funky pattern, it may have a string that wraps around your neck, it may have a pocket or a pouch, but a nursing cover is still just a blanket!

When nursing covers are advertised as must-have items, the implication is that if a woman is to successfully nurse her child, she will need a nursing cover. Furthermore, nursing covers are advertised as essential because breastfeeding is, according to some of these companies, a private activity. What that suggests is that the cover is not actually for the mom, but for all the people out there who do not want to catch a glimpse of the side corner of a woman’s breast while she feeds her child. I get that these companies are trying to sell a product, but how they can claim to support breastfeeding and then call it a private activity? Eating is not a private activity. Babies need to eat. Look at any music video, magazine cover, or billboard, and you will see images of breasts far more revealing than most nursing mothers.

One brand has a most offensive name. Hooter Hiders, by Bebe au Lait, plays on the sexualization of breasts. Tongue-in-cheek or not, the name is horrible. It implies that breasts should be hidden, particularly when feeding a baby. The company says on their website that “Breastfeeding is something to be proud of. Bebe au Lait allows modern moms to do so wherever and whenever, in style.” If breastfeeding is something to be proud of, why should it be hidden under a blanket?

I do not have a problem with nursing covers, but I do have a problem with the way they are marketed. It makes a lot of sense that a new mom might want to cover up as she learns to breastfeed. It makes no sense to tell her that in order to be a modern and hip woman, she must have a nursing cover. It makes no sense to tell that woman that breastfeeding is a private activity requiring a cover so as not to offend anyone. If only they were marketed as a product to aid in the successful initiation of breastfeeding instead of something under which to hide! I wonder what would happen if half the energy and effort spent marketing nursing products went into helping women and babies nurse successfully. Food for thought.

My blog

18 Sep

I started blogging years ago, after the birth of my son, under the moniker CanadianLactivist but when I returned to work following my maternity leave, I stopped blogging.  Recently, the impetus to blog has hit, but I want my blog to be more general – related to my life and my kids, and issues that are important to me, including breastfeeding!

I have a lot to do to grow this blog, but here goes!

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