Posts Tagged ‘emotional connection’

When Breastfeeding Ends…

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

The first time I nursed my second son

The breastfeeding relationship between a mother and baby is a special and unique connection. Every mother and baby has their own breastfeeding story.  Nourishing a baby with mother’s milk is a dynamic journey onto itself and no two adventures are ever the same. However one universal element is that breastfeeding eventually comes to an end for mother and baby. It may happen in very different ways and under very different circumstances, but there will be an endpoint in each breastfeeding relationship. For some families it is a mother-initiated process while for other families it is a child-led process; either of which can be gradual or abrupt. Sometimes a polarity exists between the two approaches and subsequently conflict, tension, and judgement arise. However if we can suspend judgement (or better yet extinguish it all together) about what is the “right” or “wrong” way to end breastfeeding and simply recognize whatever the process is for each family, it all falls under the definition of weaning. When we can find commonalities in our experiences, we approach others with a greater love, sensitivity, and compassion. And more often than not, a weaning mother needs compassion from others because it can be an emotional process for her regardless of circumstance.

Obviously the hormonal shift that occurs during weaning largely contributes to the mixed emotions many women experience during this time. Additionally mother’s often feel ambiguous about the changes in the physical and emotional connection they have with their child. On one hand woman will commonly express feeling glad to ‘have their body back’ while simultaneously ‘missing’ breastfeeding. If breastfeeding ends sooner than a mother felt ready to be done, it can be an especially emotional time. Know that it is OKAY and very NORMAL to experience sadness and even grief when breastfeeding comes to an end. It is a time of significant transition in your role as a mother and the connection you share with your child. Because it is such a pivotal event, you may want to honor it as such. Doing so may help you process and reconcile the varying emotions you have about weaning. Below are some special ways you might mark the end of your breastfeeding relationship:

Last picture I have of my middle son nursing

Take pictures– Nursing photographs are usually strikingly beautiful; they demonstrate a bond that is often hard to express in words. Even if the pictures are just for yourself and you never intend to show anyone else, you might be grateful to have them as a memento of a special time in your and your child’s life.

Journal – Much like writing a birth story, writing a breastfeeding story can be a therapeutic process. It is an opportunity to reflect and discover. Through journaling you might come to accept, understand, or cherish your breastfeeding journey in a new light.

Write your child a letter – When my older two sons weaned I wrote each of them a letter explaining the joys and challenges of our breastfeeding relationship. I also bought them each a children’s book about breastfeeding. The book I gave to them upon weaning, however the letter I am saving to share with them when they are older.

Have a celebration – A rite of passage, even weaning (or perhaps especially weaning), is worthy of a celebration! Celebrate the fact that you nourished your child with your milk (and be PROUD of however long it lasted for you and baby)! Celebrate the opportunity to find new ways to bond/connect with your child! Celebrate your child growing and changing! Celebrate your body and its amazing abilities. How you chose to celebrate will be unique for your family. It may involve a special meal or a special activity.

What was your experience with weaning? What emotions did you experience? What activities did you to do mark the end of breastfeeding for you and your child?


5 Tips for Co-Sleeping Families

Thursday, January 19th, 2012


Co-sleeping brothers

There’s plenty of information readily available on how to safely co-sleep, however there is far less information on the practicalities of co-sleeping. Yes, I know it sounds fairly easy and straightforward, however I’ve learned a few tricks over the past five years of co-sleeping. Here’s five simple tips for c0-sleeping families that utilize a family bed:

1. Have a large sleep surface– I know king sized mattresses are a lot more expensive (as is the bedding for a king sized mattress) however if you are a co-sleeping family it is likely to be a wise investment. More bed room means more comfortable sleep for everyone and less likely to result in dad getting booted out of the bed in the middle of the night. One of the benefits of co-sleeping is the deep emotional connection that is formed through close physical proximity. It’s equally important/beneficial for dad to be a part of that experience. We decided during my pregnancy with my first son that we would be a co-sleeping family so rather than spending money to create a nursery we decided to upgrade from a queen mattress to a king mattress. If a new mattress is on the horizon for you in the near future, perhaps consider going with the king sized bed to best accommodate/support your family bed. One thing that helped me swallow the cost was understand that a bed is: 1)something you use every night 2) a very infrequently purchased item and 3) that a good night’s sleep is important to overall health and wellness. Another option to purchasing a king mattress would be to have two queens pushed together.

2. Put your mattress(es) on the floor – Once baby is able to roll, I find it’s easiest to have the mattress on the floor. That way we don’t have to worry about baby falling off the bed during the night or at nap time (typically a common concern among bed-sharing families). Also from a very young age we ‘teach’ baby how to scoot backwards off the bed. This not only helps ensure baby’s safety it also foster some independence.

3. Make a ‘birth bed’ – In preparation for my home births, my midwife suggested I make my bed so that it would be easy to strip off dirty/soiled sheets to uncover a clean set of sheets underneath. I soon realized this was a great way to make the bed all the times because co-sleeping can occasionally result in extra fluids; babies spit up, diapers leak/ have blowouts, breasts leak milk, etc. It’s nice in the middle of the night to not have to find a clean set of sheets and make the bed when messes happen. I call it the ‘birth bed’ since it started with the home birth of my son. I have a water proof mattress cover on the bottom layer, then a clean fitted sheet, then a regular mattress cover, and then another fitted sheet. If a mess occurs I can easily remove the top two layers and then go right back to sleep.

4. Use a sleep sack – If you are concerned about use of blankets and such with baby, consider using a sleep sack to keep baby warm. Keep in mind that with co-sleeping extra body heat will help keep baby cozy warm too so a lot of extra layers are typically not necessary.

5. Ignore Negativity – There might be people in your life who do not support your choice to co-sleep or even make inappropriate comments to you about it. While that can create hurt feelings, confusion, and/or conflict try to shield yourself from the negativity of others. If you have chosen co-sleeping because you feel it is beneficial to your family and best meets everyone’s night time needs, frequently remind yourself of that. There is no need to convince anyone else of your co-sleeping beliefs…as long as it is working well for your family that is what counts.

What c0-sleeping tips do you have to share? Would love to hear from YOU! 🙂

Sweet dreams all! – Sarah