Dear Women’s Ministry/conference/Church,
Almost a year ago I signed up for a local church women’s conference. It is a fairly popular one day conference that many of the ladies go to from all different churches in my region. My mom and Aunt were attending and I was so looking forward to getting out and being blessed with them. There was only one problem. I was nursing a baby. My youngest daughter was about 6 months old at the time and exclusively breastfed. This means, she did/would not take a bottle (we tried a few times. She wasn’t having any of that) and as a young baby, she still needed to nurse frequently enough that I could not leave her for more than about 2 hours at a time. Maybe 3… but that could be pushing it. After all, nursing infants can be unpredictable. When I called to register I asked the nice girl on the phone if there was a cry room or some place I’d be able to move to if my nursing infant were to become fussy. She replied that she was sure there were places i could go but she needed to double check and would call me back. Now, I know these conferences are like vacations for us moms. We don’t bring kids. There often is no childcare. I knew my older children were not to attend and I had to find childcare arrangements for them and that was fine. but surely I could bring my nursing baby, I thought. I wouldn’t be rude or make people hear her crying. I’d slip out respectfully if she got fussy but how could a baby who still depends on their mother for their food and drink be unwelcome? Hours later I received a call from the same girl, now embarrassed letting me know that a nursing baby was not able to come. No babies. period. I knew this girl was not the decision maker on this issue and was purely the messenger of bad news. I took the news and swallowed it and she asked for my address so she could send my a free copy of the audio of the conference as an apology. I accepted this offer and hung up in disappointment. As it sunk in what had happened and the day went on I became more upset. Hurt even.
While I understand that children are not always able to be accommodated for or welcome to all events, how could my nursing infant caused me to be shut out of a women’s conference?
So this is what I want to tell you all. Anyone involved in church leadership or coordinating events with your religious organization-
A lot of your women are moms. I’m sure you see it all the time. You look around your congregation and think, “Surely, this is the most fertile church in the world?!” There are babies everywhere at church! Us moms are rocking them and bouncing them and shushing them and pacing your welcome areas and filling your cry rooms and checking on them in your nursery and feeding them in your nursing mothers room. We are a fertile people! Blessed. and tired. Very tired and lacking proper adult socialization. We need breaks! We need renewal. We need some time out of our homes being reminded that we are more than just dirty diaper changers and PPD battlers.
So we need your women’s conference! We need it like we need clean water to drink. We are begging for your fellowship and love and motivating message of renewal and strength.
With how many mothers there are, Many of us are breastfeeding moms. Actually about 76.9% of us U.S. moms are breastfeeding our newborns and 25% of us are still breastfeeding when our babies reach 12 months old. That’s a big chunk of your moms. And while some of us have great eaters who will switch from breast to bottle, many babies who breastfeed refuse eat from a bottle so leaving them for hours to attend any kind of lengthy event is not an option for us.
When I turn to scripture on breastfeeding it is also evident that God is not ashamed of breastfeeding. He encourages breastfeeding and he also invited mothers and their nursing babies out to large public events-
“Joel 2:16 – Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber.”
Our nursing babies seem more than welcome to this wedding.
And while I am not anti moms leaving their babies for some time to themselves, it just is not my style. I am emotionally and hormonally bonded to my infant. When I am not with my infant, I miss them and my breast become uncomfortably full, and I even leak milk. This is all part of how we are designed to be. We are designed to be with our infants and not separated for long periods down to our core molecular makeup.
I’m not the mother who forgets my baby and can run off for awhile. “Isaiah 49:15 – Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?..“
So lets face it, When nursing babes are excluded from an event, it is not babies being told not to come- it is mothers. The mothers are the ones being shut out. The mothers battling hormone changes and explosive diapers and cluster feedings from growth spurts. Sleep deprived, under-socialized, just coming out of their postpartum fog- moms. Because lets face it, God created us to make our babies our priority. Unless I’m running to the food store down the block to pick up a quick item and running straight home again- my baby is not being left home. My baby is part of me. When she is hungry, my breasts are full. When she is tired, my arms cradle her. When I go to a women’s conference, she comes with me.
So do your church a favor, show love to your nursing mothers. Show them that they matter, that they are cared about, thought about, remembered, included, and wanted with you at your church. Because we do matter.
For more Scripture on Breastfeeding: Click Here
It’s no secret that the misuse rate for carseats is of a skyrocketing percentage so here is some info on how an infant bucket seat and how to properly use it.
1) Every seat is different with the handlebar rules!
It once was pretty standard that all infant seats needed the carrying handle positioned back while the seat was in the car. That is now no longer the case. While some infant seats still require the bar all the way back, some seats give the option of it being in either position and some *require* the handle up forward as a rebound bar in an accident! Make sure you check your carseats specific manual on what is the safe way. Do not just assume whatever way you’ve been doing it is safe and will be effective in an accident as different seats are designed to react in different ways in an accident and have been tested with the bar in the spot required by the manufacturer.
2) Never use an infant seat on a shopping cart!
I know you are all tired of hearing this but it truly is not safe and is going against the manufacturers instructions. Many infant seats have that ability to “click” into a cart but that metal snapping device is not designed for a cart. It is the device that securely attaches the infant seat to it’s base and it can be damaged or worn down by shopping carts, which will prevent it from working properly in the car. While placing an infant seat on top of the cart may not feel like the biggest crime, babies have died from this common misuse. If the infant seat absolutely needs to be used in a store put in in the body of the cart, where it is slightly more protected if the cart takes a tipping. Better yet, when able, wear your baby in a baby carrier.
3) Don’t use it as an all around infant seat
I know how much we want to let the sleeping baby sleep and use that infant carrier as a way to bring the baby into any and every place but Carseats are for cars! The less you use the seat outside of the car, the better. Babies left in their seats for extended periods of time have even had their oxygen levels diminished, which can carry some extreme consequences including death.
4) Outgrowing an infant seat does not mean time to Forwardface!
We know that infant seats are NOT made to forward face but what not everyone realizes is that being past the infant seat stage does not mean it is time to get a forwardfacing seat. The next stage after an infant seat is a convertible seat (preferably one with a nice, high rearfacing weight!). a 12 month old has a very immature spine and the force put on his or her neck in a forward facing crash can be severe enough to cause some major life long injuries and even internal decapitation. The longer a child can rearface, the better!
See in this video (below) how the forward facing infant is violently thrown forward. Imagine how much stress that is on a neck that is not strong and able to handle any real force yet? I mean, these kids haven’t even been supporting their heads very long! Meanwhile, the rearfacing child, in the same impact, experiences very little movement. His seat takes on the impact while he stays safely cradled within it. This is what we want for our children! The best chance possible of walking away free of injury in an accident. So move into a convertible carseat that will allow your child to continue rearfacing until at LEAST 2 years old or until he meets the max weight/height restrictions of the seat.
5) Never buy or use a USED or EXPIRED carseat
This goes for ANY kind of carseat. What is wrong with a carseat from a yardsale or consignment shop? Who knows! That’s exactly the problem. We do not know the seats history, if it has ever been in an accident, if it was stored improperly, washed in a way not permitted by the manual, ect. And sure, we can ask a previous owner but how well do you know them? It is nice to believe that every owner out there is honest about their carseats condition but the fact is, THEY may not even realize that they misused the seat in a way that permanently damaged it. Expired seats can never be trusted for use because it is beyond it’s years of what it has been tested to last. Do not forget that it is just a hunk of plastic and plastic warps and distorts with time. Not to mention that harness straps wear and stretch and become less reliable with age. You do not want to trust an unknown or expired carseat with your child’s life.
6) Do not Wash the harness straps unless Manual permits it!
Most carseat manuals tell users not to wash the harness straps! That even includes very mild soaps at times. Harness straps can be deteriorated or weakened when they have outside agents and chemicals added to them. Even a natural solution like a simple Distilled White Vinegar is an acid that could do a lot of harm to the harness and keep it from holding up under the stress of an accident.
In the end, the biggest rule is to read your infant seat manual. Never assume that your last infant seat will be a reflection of your current one’s rules. The carseat is the main thing protecting your baby in a crash so properly using the seat 100% of the time gives them the best chance of never being hurt in an accident. If you need help with installation or understanding your seats manual, find a seat check or CPST in your area to help you. CLICK HERE and HERE to find a seat check near you
-Bess Bedell/A Warrior Mom is a Safekids Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician
People love asking moms about their baby making plans.
“Are you done?”, “Are you planning on more?”, and my favorite phrasing – with all the negative overtones-, “You’re done, right?!”.
And in case it isn’t awkward enough when friends and family asks these questions- us moms also hear this from strangers, like our cashiers.
I cannot help but wonder why people feel like they should ask someone about their birth control plans? That is what it is, after all. They may as well ask if we are planning to have some unprotected sex again. And the truth of the matter is, whether I am or not, it feels too personal and like something that is no ones business but the people who’d be making (or preventing) the baby.
And the thing is, there is no right answer. I mean, one person may want to hear you say “YES! I’m so done!” and they will sigh in relief, laugh and make a comment on how full your arms are already but that same answer to someone else will make them look at you in surprise and question why you want to make a permanent decision right now and they will talk about all the wonders another child could add to your life. While if you tell someone you are not sure or maybe you are planning one more (as I found out when I had 2 girls and people would ask if I was planning a third) you can get comments like, “Oh, you got to try for that boy, huh?”. As if my whole plan in life is to be a baby making factory until a preferred gender one arrives. Would I love a boy? SURE! But would I make the decision about how many kids I want to have and how my family will look and feel and function for the rest of my life over the 50% chance of a certain gender? uh, no. If I have another child that will be based off a bit more than hoping for a gender.
In the end, though, it just isn’t anyones business. Unless, of course, you are the person I’d be making that baby with- then it’s completely your business. That’s the only exception.
So moms (or those of you who are not parents yet who have people questioning your child baring plans), don’t feel pressured to respond. If someone asks you your plans for your sex life, it’s ok to just not answer them. If that person is willing to put you in the awkward position of having to answer such a super personal question, it’s ok to just smile or even wink and not respond and let the awkward silence roll into another conversation. Or come up with a witty come back (which I’d be thrilled to give examples of here if I were at all witty and could think of things like that).
Kids can be really trying. They may be adorable and yes, we love them with all our hearts and minds and souls, but that doesn’t mean we are always patient with them and understanding. The years may go by fast but the days are often long, tiring, and bedtime cannot come soon enough. Something I have been having to remind myself of lately is that my kids are worth being patient for. They are worth talking nicer to. They are worth listening to even when I do not want to listen. They are little but they are people and have thoughts and feeling and desires and ideas and they want to share them and be understood and be responded to, even when we feel it’s something silly or small or common sense.
When the kids are breaking a rule that I have been reminding them of all day long, it can become a huge struggle to be patient. But they are worth doing it for and your kids are too. When our kids are older, we don’t want their memory of us to be red faced and yelling about standing on the couch (for the 500th time) or of us yelling at them for a sibling fight that they were actually the victim of and not the initiator. Our kids deserve to be heard and loved on, even when we have had rough days. They deserve to be talked to like equals and reminded of the rules in love and kindness, and not with impatience and aggression. Even when our intentions are good and for their safety, if it comes out of our mouths in anger, the lesson of love is lost on our children.
When we talk our kids down and let ourselves snap, we are bullying our own children. We are taking advantage of our size and authority over them and using it against them. When we angrily grab them and move them to a place where they are less likely to get hurt- in our minds we are getting them to safety, but they see the aggression and all they are taught is that we can be rough and get physical to those smaller than us who do things we don’t like.
We are all human and it can be extremely difficult to get through a day without getting at all impatient and exasperated, but our kids are worth the effort. They are worth reminding ourselves that they need to be treated equally. They are not trying to upset us. They are not trying to mistreat the house, hurt their sibling (well, we hope not!), or put themselves in danger. They are just playing the way they play and being who they are meant to be at these young ages. As parents, there are better, nicer ways to remind our kids of the rules. There are more loving ways to move them to safety. If your tone and presence is impatient and frustrated, the message you are sending your child is one of impatience and frustration.
Remember, these little people may seem little right now but they will grow to be adults soon enough. What kind of adults are we trying to raise? I know I hope to raise adults who are kind, loving and patient. Adults who respect others and sympathize with others feelings. Adults with empathy and compassion. Adults with healthy coping mechanisms and aren’t easily brought to anger. In order to do that, I need to be the kind of adult to them I want them to become, because we are the biggest influence in their lives.
It takes work to change. It takes work, and thought, and purpose and intention to direct our actions when our emotions and exhaustion is getting the best of us. Our children are worth it, though. Knowing we made their day a little better. That they were yelled at less, laughed more, and had better lifelong examples of kindness instilled in them is worth it.
Part 2 of the “Your Kids are Worth it” series.
I know breastfeeding is hard. It can be really uncomfortable. It can be awkward when around others. It can take a lot of getting used to, physically, mentally and emotionally. It can cause clogged ducts and mastitis. It can cause family members and friends to start problems with you. It can cause strangers in the mall to give you attitude, even. And, most of all, for a tiny 2% of us (but a REAL 2%) it can be impossible. There is sacrifice involved to breastfeed our babies.
If you can overcome and fight through the awkwardness and learning to latch right and learning to trust your body to make enough and get through those hardships, your child is worth it. And there are people around who can help you and support you and WANT to help and support you while you battle through the hardships of figuring out breastfeeding.
Why is breastfeeding worth it? It’s natural. That may not mean a ton but lets put it this way- it is babies perfect food. Your breast milk is perfectly balanced for your baby. It even changes for your baby as their needs change. Breast milk gives your baby all of the vitamins and nutrients they need, even if your diet is far from perfect. Your breast milk also changes in fats as your baby gets bigger and needs more fatty milk. When there are germs around, your breast milk is a constant source of antibodies going right to your baby to protect them from illness. Also, it is full of hormones that induce thyroid growth and get the babies body up and functioning the way it is meant to. While breast milk is not the only solution for your baby to meet their dietary needs, it is by far the best and most nutritionally dense option. Click Here for ingredients in breast milk
Not only does this mega source of nutrient dense food give baby a better start, it also effects long term health. This does not mean formula fed people are all unhealthy and malnourished for the rest of their lives. I understand that many of us were formula fed and are doing quite well now. It means, we could be doing even better than well, had we been fed differently. Babies who are breastfed show to have lower rates of high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
A concern for many parents is work. Most moms today need to work and breastfeeding and working full time can be really difficult to swing. Pumping isn’t fun but with the breast pumps we now have access to today, it is quick and possible to pump at work. Plus, state laws are written in your favor to make sure you have the time and space you need to pump milk while you are at work. If buying a pump is too costly, most hospitals and IBCLC’s have hospital grade pump rentals available.
For moms who cannot breastfeed, this can be a huge heartache of a subject. My heart goes out to you if you are one of them. Please know, though, that your options are not limited to strictly formula. There are milk exchange programs. I know the thought of handling some else (especially a strangers) breastmilk can be uncomfortable and safety is even a concern for some. Most moms who breastfeed and take the time to pump and donate to those in need, typically aren’t the type who are also participating in drugs or dangerous activities that negatively effect breastmilk. Rest assure, though, you can interview and find out info about your donor. Also, some organizations will screen their donors as well. If you are in need of donor breast milk here are some places you can begin your search. milkshare , Eats on Feets , Human Milk 4 Human Babies. Also, you can contact you local Le Leche League group. Many moms pump and have extra that they would be more than happy to donate and an LLL group is a fantastic way to find those moms who are local to you. Even if you can’t get enough milk from donation to meet 100% of babies milk needs, it will benefit them to have part of their diet from breastmilk. For a mom who is struggling with supply and needs to use another source, whether it’s another mothers milk or formula, but still wants the bonding and closeness that comes with breastfeeding or is still trying to induce lactation or a higher milk supply in herself, there is also the option of using an SNS, which allows the mother to feed baby at the breast still.
So, while breastfeeding is not always easy, it is often possible. There are lots of places to go for help with breastfeeding. You can even just start asking questions on twitter to amazing, knowledgeable people like Desirre Andrews (CLE) and Nancy Holtzman (RN IBCLC). Or you can go to Kellymom where there is tons of reliable, evidence based breastfeeding information. For concerns, questions, fears, or just needing encouragement to breastfeed, there are also amazing organizations like Best for Babes, where they always speak the truth in love, are gentle and completely understand your hesitations about whether breastfeeding is something you want to do. If you need hands on support or you just want to go see what breastfeeding is really like, you can attend a Le Leche League meeting. You do not have to have a baby already to go. They will welcome you with open arms even if you are just going to learn more before you make a decision. You can also call your hospital or do a google search to find IBCLC’s in your area who can work with you on any breastfeeding concerns or issues you are experiencing.
Breastfeeding is not always easy but with proper help and support, it does get easier. And these babies, who we conceived, grew in our wombs, birthed and now love so much- they are worth all that work and all that sacrifice. Their short term and long term health are worth trying. Whether that means trying to put stereotypes and awkward cultural ideas about our breasts aside so we can see our bodies and their relationship with our infants differently or means trying to overcome latching problems or unsupportive family and friends- these babies are worth it. And if you can’t, have peace in knowing you tried and did what you could. This post is not one of judgement but one of love, strength and encouragement.
Cesarian Section. C-section. CS. Surgical birth.
There is so much weight, emotion, assumptions, expectations that comes with even the mention of a C-section. Every kind of response from “Yay! you had/are having your baby” (with no thought or reaction or emotion about a C-S) to devastation, hurt, trauma, happiness, relief, and joy.
Cesarean sections are so loaded. Yes, we are having a baby. The baby is the point of all of this after all. This baby we conceived, dreamed of, felt grow, felt kick and hiccup, awaited the due date of, imagined how they may look, how they will act, how they will feel to hug and kiss, what their hobbies may be, what college they’ll go to. We have thought about it all for them. This entire birth process is for them. So we so often get that numb, heartless response and thought, even in our own minds, “as long as the baby is healthy”. Whatever you birth is like, it does not matter, as long as that baby is healthy. Whether they induce you, use forceps on you, or even cut you open and remove your baby from your numb gut, you have a healthy baby now. What society so often forgets is that even if the point is to get this beautiful baby into our arms, it’s our experience too. It’s our bodies that are contracting, pushing, cut at, pulled at, sewn back together. It is our experience that we remember for the rest of our lives. So what is it like? When our births end in c-section?
When I asked other moms what their experiences were, I get a range of answers.
Interesting life experience
These are just some of the words used. Some of the feelings that women still feel when thinking back to their c-section experience. What this shows to me is that women are strong. We are amazing, even. We are willing to sacrifice anything for our babies. I regret my C-section. I do not regret doing what I thought was necessary, at the time, for my baby girl. I’d even do it again if I thought it was necessary again. For her. We are filled with an incredible self-sacrificing love when it comes to our babies. We are willing to be sliced, diced, terrified and scarred for life for these little people who grew within us.
You will hear women express regret, sadness, hurt, anger, fear, numbness, confusion and more when it comes to her cesarean experience. Even planned cesareans, which do not tend to have the same range of emotions evolved around them, come loaded with fear and complications. None of us regret our babies.
So, don’t tell a cesarean mom, ” All that matters is a healthy baby”. Nobody knows how much that baby matters more than the mom who has a cesarean for that baby. We matter too. The mom matters. Her birth experience matters, her body and her pain and her feelings matter.
Moms who have had unexpected cesareans need time to heal. Part of healing is being loved. Feeling sympathized with. Being comforted. Yes, being reminded of the little blessing in our arms, nursing at our breasts, but also being reminded that we are strong and we are incredible and we made a huge sacrifice and that we should be proud of the mothers we are. Not that “at least our babies are alive”. We don’t need to be reminded to be thankful for healthy babies. We understand the value in that. What we need, is for others to understand the value of us and our experience and our bodies when we go through trauma. Love on mama’s. Love on the mama’s who have had unexpected, traumatic births. Help them heal. Help them recognize their own awesome mom-ness.