WBW 2016: A story of working and breastfeeding, and staying determined

wbw2016-logo-textEditor’s note: Yesterday, we read 5 tips for breastfeeding mothers returning to work outside the home. For this day of World Breastfeeding Week, we share another breastfeeding mother’s story of working and child-led weaning:

My daughter recently weaned after 3 and 1/2 years of nursing. We did baby-led weaning, so there were no tears shed — on either side. That I was set for failure to begin with in so many ways makes me want to share my story with others, especially working moms.

A Hard Start

As an older parent, with a cesarean birth, I was faced with the same struggles so many new moms struggle with: no to little milk supply for the first few weeks…no milk reflex that every breastfeeding book and counselor tell you about, for weeks…advice about pumping, giving formula, different nursing positions, and so on. But I stayed determined to breastfeed my baby!

My daughter spent some time in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). We were given the option of giving her donated breastmilk instead of formula, which we chose. Later, I found out that the breastmilk came from the first milk bank in Oregon, started just 3 years earlier!

At home, I did have to supplement with formula, but before every formula-feeding, I nursed her until she wouldn’t take more. Eventually after a few weeks, my milk supply did improve.

Returning to Work

After 8 weeks of maternity leave, when I got back to work, initially I tried to get to my baby to nurse her once during the day, but it affected both of our day time routines so much that I started pumping while at work instead. Before you return to your work, make sure your child safe with the nurse. It has seen many times nurses, neglect the baby, or abuse them or make them starve while parents are not around. Make sure the nurse don’t abuse your kid or neglect your kid. If any kind of abuse or negligence happened, protect your kid by engaging with the nursing home abuse lawyer Boston MA.

This is usually the time that babies develop a nipple preference — the breast or the bottle. In order to mitigate that, we followed a persistent routine with another caregiver offering her pumped milk and I always breastfed her on demand when home after work and on weekends.

At work, I exchanged notes with other moms who had done this before me. Every bit of encouragement and advice went a long way in taking us through the first year.

Somewhere along the way, during the 4- to 5-month mark, I had more milk than my baby needed and I made sure I froze the extra.

Breastfeeding Beyond 1 Year

The cultural expectation to wean around 1 year was a huge shocker. Most moms, family, and friends I interacted with thought 1 year of breastfeeding was enough and sufficient. Breastfeeding a baby on demand, especially at night, does take a toll on moms and this, I heard, is a big reason why many decide to wean at around the 1-year mark. But the ignorance, for a lack of better word, on why one would breastfeed beyond infancy took me some time to understand.

divya singh 1I educated myself and my family about the benefits of breastfeeding beyond infancy. This was especially important since my own parents had brought me and my siblings up in India in the late 1970s and ’80’s when formula and bottle-feeding were marketed as the pathways to “better nutrition” and “women’s empowerment” for middle-class families. I have lost count of the number of arguments I had with my own mother about why it was so important for me to take breastfeeding into my daughter’s second year.

Nighttime Nursing & Workday Mornings

As a family, we transitioned our daughter from her bassinet to cosleeping as soon as she was done with swaddling and had figured out the night-day difference around 3 to 4 months old. Nighttime and early morning nursings became a lot easier as a result.

My workday mornings were playful, fun, and challenging at the same time, especially to get out of the house. Breastfeeding in the mornings is not easy and for obvious reasons not workable for many working families. My mornings had to start at least 2 to 3 hours before I had to leave for work, so I had enough time before my baby was up to take care of morning chores, not rush her through nursing, and get an early start to work.

During a critical phase of a project at work, for months I would use alarms to wake myself up in the middle of the night after few hours of sleep. In all those moments, I just had to remind myself that even this would pass, to stay determined on my breastfeeding goals, and to keep going.

Our Marriage

At nights, nursing to put her to bed meant often that the dishwasher wasn’t loaded and the kitchen was a mess. Nursing on demand also meant that my husband had to pick up on chores where I left off. What resulted was a true partnership.

A Change in Jobs

When our daughter was born, my husband and I had jobs in different cities. We had figured our leave schedule so we were together the first year. After that, while we were still figuring out how to work it all out, there was an academic semester of my husband’s that I had to manage as a single mom with some domestic help and baby in daycare. It was one of the toughest times I had managing work and home and gave me a better appreciation of what was needed for my family.

At that point, I decided to change my job to one where the immediacy of deadlines was less intense. Leaving a project and team I loved dearly was not an easy decision, but something had to change.

Soon afterwards, as luck would have it, my husband was able to move his academic job to a branch campus much closer to home. All in all, it meant that it was only after her second birthday that we both could see her go to bed and get up in the morning every day of the week. Separation from her father for extended periods of time in the first 2 years also meant that our daughter grew much more attached to me then her father and her need for attachment and comfort with me would have made it very hard to wean her earlier.

Weaning

Two years and counting, I wondered when I was going to get my full night uninterrupted sleep. This is when I reached out to other moms at work who had followed baby-led weaning to hear their stories and experiences. We have this amazing working moms network where members respond to questions on a variety of parenting topics. We also have a moms mentoring program. This is especially important in a workplace that operates around the clock and therefore is obviously fraught with challenges for young families. Hearing from others that every child does wean themselves with some support from the moms when they are ready made all the difference for me.

Another big change was I had a job that offered me much more flexibility in the hours I spent at work or doing weekend coverage. Once we made the decision about following baby-led weaning, I had to come to terms with our nursing routine. By this time, I had nursed her wherever we traveled in India and the United States, from trains to buses, flights and metros, and all kinds of public spaces. We had managed 2 tough winters of daycare infections coming home and the long night nursings that come with a sick baby. By the third winter, however, I could already see the benefits of stronger immunity that my daughter developed due to extended breastfeeding.

And here we are. My daughter has weaned. All in all, my breastfeeding and baby-led weaning experience has given me confidence in my parenting journey.

Reflecting on Earth Day through my family’s every day green choices

divya singh 1I hope you were able to reflect on ways to make changes in how you live during this year’s Earth Day on April 22. Having a baby has made me so conscious of every day choices I make for myself and my soon-to-be 4-year-old daughter. Parenting is a learning experience, and when I look back, indeed every day has been nothing short of a live classroom.

Before I was expecting, a local Earth Day event had really got me thinking of the power each of us holds to change things.

My family’s health has become my top-most priority, and eating well is a big part of that. We get farm-fresh milk from a local dairy, fresh vegetables from another farm and freshly baked goodies from local bakers. The rest, we cook at home most of the time.

We had always recycled, but we still generated some waste. That waste multiplied manifold when we had our baby and made me look for ways to reduce diaper waste. I found cloth diapers. We also have a compost bin in the backyard that helps us eliminate most of our remaining waste. The compost is used for our fruit trees and vegetable beds.

I love gardening with my kids, we use use grow tents for indoor gardening and they love it. My little daughter even know all the names of each plant we have.

The joy on our little one’s face when she plucks her own fruits and vegetables to eat is so immense that it keeps me going with gardening no matter how busy life may be. Sometimes, she just relaxes under the parasol and I realised how Parasols for your garden can be a boon on a scorching day.

Gardening is among the leading hobbies just about everywhere in the world. The popularity of gardening with the aid of home greenhouses online kits has caused an explosion of green house equipment and supplies designed for the hobby gardener. What was used only in commercial or institutional growing houses is now being used in the avid gardener’s own custom built greenhouse as well. Many of these supplies can be costly and it is necessary that you realize what you will need when planning a custom hobby greenhouse.

Growing your own produce, fruit and vegetables all year-round is making the basic gardener consider a hobby greenhouse for low cost sustainability. Hobby greenhouses, whether it is a kit, a lean-to or a stand alone greenhouse, are all great ways to become a part of this vast emergence due to the high costs of living and the concern for organic products and healthy choices.

Besides planning a place in your yard for your hobby greenhouse, the builder will guide your project through a professional and successful construction and installation process. Hobby, school and commercial greenhouses and greenhouse supplies are also items you will want to ask about in your planning stages.

For example, if you live in colder climates, you will want certain types of heating systems and particular materials in the greenhouse to aid your plants in healthy growth year round.

Misting and fog systems are common greenhouse equipment that is used in southern greenhouses and hot climates. Misting systems aid to cool greenhouses with a fine mist that depresses air temperatures when it evaporates. Greenhouse supplies for misting and fogging come in many sizes and costs and your greenhouse builder will also help you decide the proper size and will order it directly through his various sources.

Greenhouses provide a controlled environment for plant life by the common use of venting. This is where the vents are built into the greenhouse roof, and allow the heat to rise, or the mist to ascend. This allows most vegetation or floral to grow at the control of the gardener.

Another utility for healthy agricultural growth is with hydroponics. Hydroponics are usually a steel or plastic piping that allows the root to grow while it feeds on the nutrients in a water solution. No soil is necessary and the beauty of this method is the fact that it rids all plants of soil based disease and is more cost effective in the long run. Hydroponic greenhouses are growing in numbers within southern greenhouse regions. The greenhouse builder or manufacturer can either supply the hydroponics or they will point you in the right direction for setting up your hydroponic greenhouse.

While a custom built greenhouse is a permanent greenhouse due to size and land restrictions, lean-to and stand alone small greenhouses are good solutions.

Lighting for greenhouses are another greenhouse supply that you may wish to also include. Greenhouse lighting artificial lights may be required if your growing area does not provide adequate light. Grow lights are great for helping plants maintain healthy growth. It can also aid the grower in sprouting and germination of the select plant of choice.

There are also other greenhouse supply options that are useful, such as plant hangars, sprinklers, misting wands, extra doors, shelving, and greenhouse shades that roll over the roof of the greenhouse to provide more adequate shade solutions. PVC fittings, even greenhouse insulation and benches are also very popular.

If you live in an region with a short growing season, the cool weather can overtake crops like tomatoes and peppers when these would be at their peak. With greenhouses, you extend your short season so you are able to delight in the ability to have fresh vegetables longer.

Mini greenhouses, or very small greenhouses range in non-enter to small walk in greenhouses the size of a small coat closet. They are a great way to ease into greenhouse gardening. These are also built by the custom greenhouse builder and you can order kits as well. The kits may be simple inferior products due to the materials used, but at least it could be a simple solution to a new beginning in greenhouse gardening.

Anyone can grow plants, but to grow plants well takes a little knowledge, skill and the right equipment. Each city and on line resources offer excellent information on starting a greenhouse garden. A greenhouse creates the perfect atmosphere for plants to flourish; so many people are building greenhouses on their properties, and stocking them with the right greenhouse supplies.

One last type of greenhouse structure to consider is the luxury greenhouse. These are very large solarium’s and greenrooms, some with many stories and swimming pools, water fountains and foliage resembling that of a vacation hideaway. Again, ask your greenhouse builder for more information on building a luxury greenhouse and planning your custom greenhouse.

When we started solids, my daughter started daycare around the same time. I struggled with the reality of balancing life and work with the option of serving prepackaged food versus preparing fresh food. Eventually — between breast milk, some freshly prepared food and some store-bought jars — we found our balance.

Soon after our daughter’s first birthday, we bought our first house. The house came with a yard that was landscaped with native species of shrubs and trees. It attracted some rare species of birds that I have gotten to see thanks to our little one who encourages me to spend time outside with her, rain or shine. The freedom from having to water the yard even in the driest of Oregon summers is such an advantage.

Every new parent knows the amount of stuff we accumulate when babies arrive in our lives. Trying to fit all the stuff in an apartment when we had our baby made me very conscious of how much “baby stuff” I was going to get, either as gifts or buy on my own. I did not stop myself from buying something if I really liked it, but I had to make a conscious effort to say “no” to a lot of gifts. Moving into a house hasn’t changed much in terms of lack of storage space, and I continue to use stuff from close friends and pass down stuff to new families as soon as I get the opportunity.

Celebrating birthdays has been another occasion where I have put my green choices to great use. I call these “gift exchange” parties and encourage friends to bring used or recycled toys. I send home potted seedlings as return gifts that our friends’ children can plant to enjoy their fruits.

As a mother wanting to raise a like-minded daughter, I am already starting to reap the benefits of sowing these “seeds” of conscious living. My daughter saves her toys to give away to other little ones, and whenever the kitchen tap or shower faucet has running water flowing with full force, my little one reminds me to use it just as much as I need and to not waste too much water in the shower.

I hope you have been inspired to make some small every day changes in how you live to benefit the health of our Earth.

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And we said bye-bye to breastfeeding

divya singh 1This holiday season, my 3-1/2-year-old daughter and I said bye-bye to our breastfeeding relationship on a very happy note. Here is how it worked for us:

When my daughter turned 2 years old, every now and then I talked about weaning, but she wanted to continue the morning and bedtime nursings. Then, on Thanksgiving weekend at the end of November, our weaning time came.

With a bad cold, she had been nursing a couple times at night in the 7 to 10 days before. One of these mornings I had sore nipples, and I told her I was hurting so she should be gentle. To my surprise, she just licked both sides and called it done. The following morning, she wanted to just cuddle, talk and sing before starting our day.

The first two nights after this, I intentionally avoided our bedtime routine — which she had been okay with on some recent weekends — because she was very tired, having missed her naps at daycare. The third night, after our usual night routine — to my amazement — she said she didn’t want “amma duddhu” (mommy’s milk)! I knew then that she was done.

And we said bye-bye:

And we said bye-bye to “amma duddhu.”
You didn’t cry, nor did I —
One small step, one big moment,
To let go of this elixir so potent!

And we said bye-bye to “amma duddhu.”
You were ready, and so was I —
A moment to pause, and celebrate,
So many to thank and dedicate!

And we said bye-bye to “amma duddhu,”
Like your first walk, like your first talk,
This was surely one milestone,
On this parenting voyage, a large capstone!

And we said bye-bye to “amma duddhu.”
When so many said you were too old to nurse
And questioned why I continued to nurse,
You affirmed our bond like a poem or verse!

Thanks for choosing me, your amma!

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