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    Attachment Parenting - New York City Edition

    Last Thursday, I received an email from my fellow blogger, author, and friend, Dionna Ford at Code Name: Mama. Turns out it was a good thing I checked my email before heading to work that morning. As, less than an hour later, instead of driving to work, I found myself driving to New York City where I had the opportunity to meet the lovely and eloquent Dionna (and her sweet, nom-able baby daughter) in person, fellow natural parenting blogger Rachael at The Variegated Life (whose children *may* have the coolest names ever), the exuberant attachment parenting guru, Dr. Jay Gordon, and even got to shake hands with attachment parenting advocate Mayim Bialik!

    (Me, Ailia, and Dionna)

    After a three hour drive (yes, you read that correctly. My usual 1hr 20min drive to the big apple took THREE HOURS. I hear the President was in town for the day; so I'd like to thank POTUS - I've never seen the Lincoln Tunnel in such great, and drawn-out detail.), I was more than relieved to take my wrinkly-pants self out of my car, and into the busy studio of Anderson Cooper’s daytime show. The topic of the show segment being recorded that day was Attachment Parenting and breastfeeding; as prompted by the now-infamous Time Magazine cover. While waiting for Dionna to go to “hair and makeup” and then to on stage (squeee!),

    (Dionna, getting pretty)

    we both had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Jay for a good long while. He’s an amiable, straight-talker with a true passion for normalizing breastfeeding and attachment parenting. He also happens to be the pediatrician to several Hollywood stars’ children – which as a complete non sequitur, did make for even more interesting conversation. I highly recommend checking out his site – which I referenced several times myself when my kids were babies.

    (Me, Ailia, and Dr. Jay)

    (backstage view - that's Mayim in the light)

    I was able to watch - with one eye - much of the filming from backstage with babe-on-hip (note to self: everyone wants to talk to you when you are holding a baby). However, I've yet to see the episode in its entirety. Once a full video can be found online, I'll be sure to post a link here! I've been told that, unfortunately, much of Dionna’s articulate responses to Anderson’s and audience member’s questions about breastfeeding and attachment parenting were left on the editing-room floor. I can attest in person, she did a fabulous job of representing the very normal side of extended nursing and natural parenting, and she did so with an air of confidence - in front of a large audience; including some celebrities (speaking of celebrities… while we were waiting backstage, Ailia and I took this photo):

    (Billy Bob Thornton)

    After the show, I was able to talk with Rachael a bit, took a few photographs of the city, then headed back home (a far shorter experience on the way back!). It was an excellent trip, all around. It felt so good to be able to talk attachment parenting in depth with real people - who really got it. I'm hoping, in spite of the shock-value nature of the Time cover, the subject of attachment parenting and breastfeeding will become more a part of the landscape and conversations of parenting in general; less a fringe "extreme" style, and more understood for what it truly IS: a natural and easy way of relating to our children. I'm grateful for mothers who stand up and speak out for what they believe in; together we can change the "norm" of parenting!  

    (Rachel & Dionna - city gals!)

    Posted: May 22 2012, 17:55 by kelly | Comments (6) RSS comment feed |
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    Derision and Scorn: How Time Dropped the Ball on Attachment Parenting

    What comes to mind when you think attachment parenting?

    Perhaps you envision a young, lithe, white woman, standing in bold contrapposto, staring unapologetically into the camera, her nearly four-year-old perched on a chair, hanging somewhat awkwardly from her one perfectly exposed breast, also staring - though less boldly, and more confusedly - into the same camera?

    It isn't what would come to my mind, nor, likely most parents who practice attachment parenting.

    But, with that very image, accompanied by a purposefully provocational headline and subtext, Time Magazine would like to convey the message that this pose/interaction (whether breastfeeding, breastfeeding an "older child", breastfeeding without cover, or perhaps, simply, a woman staring unabashedly at the viewer) is extreme (which, extreme, it's not. Perhaps, in 1863, when Edouard Manet first shocked the world by painting a bare-breasted woman staring unrepentantly at the viewer, "extreme" might be a suitable description, but in 2012, when sexualized breasts are the advertising norm, no),

    that it represents attachment parenting (which, considering how deliberately unengaged the two are in this photograph, it doesn't), and/or, that breastfeeding is the epitome of being "mom enough" (which, a child fed and clothed - all that's represented without dispute in this image - may be indicative of mom enough, but, I'd argue being a mom - a PARENT - takes far more than open mouth, insert milk; and the last time I checked, parenting wasn't a contest - at least not to anyone other than the media). In other words (through all my parenthesis) Time failed miserably with this cover.

    In truth, the only thing Time managed to do with this photograph, was to present a lovely woman with her cherubic child in an awkwardly stylized pose; slap an outlandish headline on the front which practically screams for people to get up in arms about - take your pick: attachment parenting, nudity, breastfeeding, mommy wars - and sell lots of copies of an otherwise less-than-unbiased and far-less-than thorough news magazine gossip rag.

    Certainly Time wasn't going for normalizing breastfeeding - which, could have served mothers and children everywhere. I say certainly, as, if that HAD been their intent, they would have chosen the alternate photograph for the cover - same mother and child, in a far more natural, comforting pose. With THAT photograph, they could have showed how breastfeeding is as much about nurturing as it is about nutrition, and that gentle, loving touch between mother and child doesn't have to end simply because a child is able to walk, talk, and get themselves dressed. They COULD have chosen an image that didn't reinforce the confounding and insidious public belief that breastfeeding beyond infancy, or exposing breasts for breastfeeding at all, is somehow sexual. They could have taken the road less travelled. Instead, they followed the path of least resistance: sex and shock value sells.

    Look, Time wasn't attempting to bring any real understanding of attachment parenting. If THAT had been their intent, certainly such martyr-esque language as was used to describe one featured attached parent would've been left behind in editing. Case in point:

    "[Joanne & her partner] ended much of their social life when they became parents. There are no date nights. Joanne doesn't get away for afternoons to have lunch with her girlfriends. In fact, the only time Joanne has ever left either of her children in anyone else's care was when she was in labor with her second child.... the child-rearing philosophy Joanne subscribes to, It's called attachment parenting ... a style that's more about parental devotion and sacrifice than about raising self-sufficient kids. ... Attachment-parenting dogma also says that every baby's whimper is a plea for help and that no infant should ever be left to cry."

    In fact, the accompanying article (The Man Who Remade Motherhood) was positively fraught with blatently obvious stereotypes, judgments, and purposeful overstatements:

    "…for months, Beauregard sat on the couch in her Denver-area living room, nursing her infant from sunup to sundown"

    (ALL that BREASTFEEDING - can you even IMAGINE? Oh, the OPPRESSION!) - and -

    "So is attachment parenting a misogynist plot to take women out of the workplace and put them back in the home full time?"

    (yes, yes, responding with empathy and gentleness to your infant is a "misogynist plot". But wait, where does it say only women may attachment parent, or that women must not work, or must breastfeed in order to attachment parent? That's right, nowhere. One wonders, after reading this article, if the author did any research but for the most cursory Google search on "Attachment Parenting" before writing.)

    I can't help but believe Time's sole intent was pure derision and scorn of an already beleaguered and misunderstood method of parenting.

    I praise Jamie Lynne Grumet, Dionna Ford, Jessica Cary, and Melinda Larson for taking such a brave step towards bringing greater understanding and acceptance to attachment parenting and extended breastfeeding. In all, it's terribly sad that Time missed a grand opportunity to present to its wide audience a nurturing, loving, gentle way of relating to children. By miring breastfeeding and attachment parenting in phony controversy and manufactured scandal, they really dropped the ball.

    Posted: May 11 2012, 22:31 by kelly | Comments (10) RSS comment feed |
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    Breastfeeding in Public - Madonna Style!

    I’m a long-time fan of Madonna. In the 80's, I'm pretty sure I wanted to BE the queen of pop. The first outfit I bought with my own money? White roll-down mini skirt with grommets, and orange shirt with roll-up mesh sleeves. One of the very first CDs I owned was the soundtrack to Dick Tracy (please don't tell any of this to my indie-alterna-grunge self of the 90's, she might die a little bit). Anyhow, Madonna’s already a legend in my book: independent, self-assured, ambitious, spirited, doesn't give a hoot about what anyone thinks of her. So, where's this post going, you ask?

    Well, her new album is being released in a couple of days, so I decided to check out the video for the first single, to get a taste of where her music has gone this time and... jaw drop. Because?

    Breastfeeding. Madonna, breastfeeding. In her video! "Squeeeeeeee!!", says the lactivist in me.  

    Now yes, okay, it's not a REAL baby, and yeah, she tosses the baby like a football at the end, and alright, the song isn't that great, nor is the rest of the video (though, dang, her legs look fabulous!), but still, all that aside, there is Madonna in the video, not once, but TWICE, breastfeeding "in public". So, Madonna. I still think you rock; but even more so now.

    If you want to see the video for yourself... 

    Posted: Mar 21 2012, 22:18 by kelly | Comments (2) RSS comment feed |
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    Inspiring Breastfeeding Quotes

    Breastfeeding my two children over six years was one of the most rewarding parts of my mothering adventure. I’ll always be glad I went for it, was successful, and stuck with it. Whether you’re thinking of breastfeeding, or have breastfed for a few days, weeks, months, or years, you know that nourishing your baby at your breast is natural, healthy, and offers benefits for both baby AND mom. It’s not always easy to get started, or keep going, but the advantages are great. If you’re having trouble and need a little encouragement, or just a pat-on-the-back-reminder of why you’re doing what you’re doing, I’ve compiled are a few joyful breastfeeding quotes to keep you going.


    Here’s to you meeting your own breastfeeding goals - whatever they may be. Go, mama!  You can do it! 


    The natural power of breastfeeding is one of the greatest wonders of the world. It is about real love. It is about caring and celebrating the wondrous joy of nurturing a new life. It is about enjoying being a woman.

    ~ Anwar Fazal

    Breastfeeding is a mother's gift to herself, her baby and the earth. 

    ~ Pamela K. Wiggins



    Breastmilk satisfies.

    ~Ohio Department of Health

    She doesn’t need to count how often she feeds the baby any more than she counts how often she kisses the baby.

    ~ Babette Francis (Journal of Tropical Pediatrics & Environmental Child Health)



    The newborn baby has only three demands. They are: warmth in the arms of its mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three.

    ~ Dr. Grantly Dick-Read



    Breastfeeding a baby – what could be more natural?

    ~ LLL; The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding


    Breastfeeding confers significant short and long-term health benefits for both the mother and her infant, which go beyond the period of breastfeeding itself.

    ~ National Health Service of Great Britain



    Nursing does not diminish the beauty of a woman's breasts; it enhances their charm by making them look lived in and happy. 

    ~ Robert A. Heinlein



    Breastfeeding is more than just a method of feeding. It is a lifestyle choice.

    ~ Dr. William Sears



    While breastfeeding may not seem the right choice for every parent, it is the best choice for every baby. 

    ~ Amy Spangler



    Mother's milk, time-tested for millions of years, is the best nutrient for babies because it is nature's perfect food. 

    ~ Robert S. Mendelsohn



    When she first felt her son's groping mouth attach itself to her breast, a wave of sweet vibration thrilled deep inside and radiated to all parts of her body; it was similar to love, but it went beyond a lover's caress, it brought a great calm happiness, a great happy calm. 

    ~ Milan Kundera



    My opinion is that anybody offended by breastfeeding is staring too hard. 

    ~ David Allen



    Countless women have regained trust in their bodies through nursing their children, even if they weren't sure at first that they could do it.  It is an act of female power, and I think of it as feminism in its purest form. 

    ~ Christine Northrup



    The one thing that has evolved with humans, to nourish humans, is breast milk. It is the ideal evolutionary model for what nourishment should be. It is a remarkable fluid.

    ~ J. Bruce German, a food science professor at the University of California, Davis



    Imagine that the world had created a new 'dream product' to feed and immunize everyone born on earth. Imagine also that it was available everywhere, required no storage or delivery, and helped mothers plan their families and reduce the risk of cancer. Then imagine that the world refused to use it.

    ~ Frank Oski



    Babies were born to be breastfed!

    ~ U.S. Department of Health & Human Services



    Breastfeeding is an unsentimental metaphor for how love works, in a way.  You don’t decide how much and how deeply to love – you respond to the beloved, and give with joy exactly as much as they want. 

    ~ Marni Jackson



    With his small head pillowed against your breast and your milk warming his insides, your baby knows a special closeness to you. He is gaining a firm foundation in an important area of life – he is learning about love.

    ~ La Leche League pamphlet  c.1956



    In breastfeeding, the infant is cradled in the mother’s arms. Pleasure in sucking, the satisfaction of hunger, intimacy with the mother’s body, are united with his recognition of her face.

    ~ Selma Fraiberg


    Posted: Oct 26 2011, 18:38 by kelly | Comments (4) RSS comment feed |
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    Breastfeeding is All About Support

    I was lucky enough to be able to breastfeed both of my children. I breastfed my daughter until she was four years old. When my son was born, we tandem nursed for a year and a half until my daughter weaned, then continued to nurse my son until he was three & a half years old. My years as a breastfeeding mother were some of my most precious and tender moments with each of my children.
    Breastfeeding was empowering, comforting, and, in spite of occasional discomfort and challenges along the way, it was on the whole, a truly wonderful experience. I would love as many women as possible to be able to experience the wonder of nurturing their babies at their breasts, just as I did.
    The reason I had such a wonderful experience with breastfeeding, was that I had wonderful support - from my husband, my lactation consultant, my family. I'm not sure I would have made it as far as I did without such support. For ANY woman considering breastfeeding her baby, proper support is KEY to her success:
    Let your partner, your parents, your siblings, and your friends know you are planning on breastfeeding, and ask for their support in your intent. Don’t be afraid to tell them WHY you want to breastfeed! Specific knowledge about your intentions will help them help you if you encounter moments of wavering in your commitment. Having people to support you, to cheer you on, to remind you why you’re doing what your doing can make all the difference in the world to your success!
    If you’re birthing in a hospital, call ahead to be certain they have a lactation consultant on staff, and find out how often she’s there. If she only works days or weekends, or, if you’re planning on birthing at home, make sure you are in contact with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant who can be on call after the birth of your baby. Don’t forget to bring her phone number to the hospital with you! Here’s a listing of IBCLCs by state: http://www.lactivist.com/ibclc.html Another thing to consider is hiring a post-partum doula. Many doulas are breastfeeders themselves, and post-partum doulas are trained to help mothers establish breastfeeding, and help create the supportive environment they need to have a successful breastfeeding relationship. A doula is a wonderful person to have around - not only in labor, but afterwards!
    There are plenty of books and websites available with information about breastfeeding; but, unfortunately, not every one has accurate information. Here are a few good resources, I recommend:
    The Breastfeeding Book by Martha Sears
    The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers by Dr. Jack Newman
    Breastfeeding Made Simple by Nancy Mohrbacher
    The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by Diane Wiessinger
    KellyMom.com - http://kellymom.com/
    La Leche League - http://www.llli.org/
    Breastfeeding.com - http://www.breastfeeding.com/
    Best for Babies.org - http://www.bestforbabes.org/
    Aside from your lactation consultant, partner, and reading material, it’s a good idea to have an extended network of mothers who have “been there, done that”. Before your baby is born, find a nearby La Leche Leage group and attend a meeting! Having real-life mothers to talk to, cry with, and commiserate with, is vital to breastfeeding success. Knowing that “you’re not the only one” who feels a certain way, or who has experienced a certain issue helps you know everything is a-okay and on track. To find a LLLI meeting or leader near you, check here: http://www.llli.org/webindex.html Remember that LLL leaders are volunteers who love breastfeeding and natural parenting and want you to succeed! Don’t be afraid to give one a call, just to talk.
    In the age of smart phones, online “been there, done that” breastfeeding support is close at hand. How I wish Twitter & Facebook was available to me when I first starting to breastfeed! Keep a list in Twitter of ladies who are lactation consultants, lactation counselors, la leche league leaders, or who have successfully breastfed, for instant on-the-spot help. To start, try following these folks:
    Diana @DianaIBCLC | IBCLC: http://twitter.com/#!/DianaIBCLC
    Liz @askthelc | RN, IBCLC: http://twitter.com/#!/askthelc
    Lara @MamaPearDesigns | CLEC: http://twitter.com/#!/MamaPearDesigns
    Shari @ShariCriso | Nurse-Midwife, IBCLC: http://twitter.com/#!/ShariCriso
    Jessica @TheLeakyBoob: http://twitter.com/#!/TheLeakyBoob
    Doudoubebe @mamabear_ca: http://twitter.com/#!/mamabear_ca
    Infant Risk Center @infantrisk: http://twitter.com/#!/infantrisk
    La Leche Leage Canada @LLLCanada: http://twitter.com/#!/LLLCanada
    Message boards can also be a good resource for more in-depth discussion, though be cautious of any information you receive online; make sure you cross-check your info w/a book or in-person support! Mothering.com has an active board with a lot of caring, experienced mothers: http://mothering.com/breastfeeding
    Having properly fitting nursing bras, washable nursing pads (or disposable, if you don’t have someone who can do your laundry for you right away!), comfortable clothes (don’t need to be special nursing-specific clothes, just easy to access for nursing wherever – try to wear layered shirts with buttons down the front, or in cross-over chest style – nothing that is binding in the breast area or requires removing completely before you can start breastfeeding), and baby-safe nipple cream might seem like unnecessary items, but having them available before baby arrives, can really help with your post-partum, early breastfeeding comfort. And the more comfortable mama is, the easier and more smoothly breastfeeding will go! Make sure you have nutritious ready-made food frozen ahead of time, or have someone who will be helping you cook right after baby arrives, so healthy meals are easy and quick. Keep a travel thermos of water with you all the time (even in bed!) – nursing mothers need lots of water to stay healthy and hydrated. Continue to take your prenatal vitamins after baby is born – they are usually rich in iron and vitamin D, and will help your body continue to heal, while you nourish your new baby. And finally, get as much sleep as you can so your body has time to heal, and make milk! I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but as much as possible: Sleep When The Baby Sleeps! Learn how to nurse in the side-lying position, so that you can lie down with your baby and rest for naptime.
    Above all, take it easy on yourself. Be forgiving of yourself, be patient with yourself & your baby (you are both learning a new skill!), and don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can DO it; your body was made to breastfeed your baby, and your baby was made to drink your breastmilk.
    If you’re a breastfeeding mama, I’d love to hear YOUR stories of support! If you haven’t had your baby yet, but are planning on breastfeeding when she’s born, what are you doing to make sure you are supported in your breastfeeding goals?
    Posted: Aug 06 2011, 18:03 by kelly | Comments (2) RSS comment feed |
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