Touchy Topic: Co-Sleeping

When we first started co-sleeping, it was by complete accident. Conner had been sleeping in a bassinet and we would get up often to nurse through the night. As a new, inexperienced, breastfeeding mom, I would prepare to nurse in bed while James got up with him and changed his diapers. I would place pillows behind me and grab my Boppy.

I giggle now at the memories: worrying about every little detail, having to have things absolutely perfect, and all that sleep we lost.

I’m not sure how many weeks this went on, but I remember that night pretty well. The night we first started co-sleeping. I had nursed Conner, but he would not go back to sleep in his bed. Every time I put him down he would start screaming, even if I had nursed him or rocked him to sleep first.

We are against the “cry-it-out method,” so we had to do something if we were going to get any sleep. So in the bed he came.

It was as if he felt a sudden peace over him and had no problem going to sleep. Not only was he now sleeping, he was sleeping for longer stretches. Ah! This was so nice. Sleep? What is that? Well, we were finally finding out!

I remember other moms talking..

You just need to let him cry.

He needs to learn.

I didn’t understand what they were learning by crying. Learning that I didn’t want to comfort them? Learning that I didn’t care they were crying? What if he is hungry? What if he is scared? What if he just wants to be held? How will he tell me what he wants and needs? Isn’t that what crying is?

As a new mom, it can be overwhelming. There is so much advice out there and so many people telling you what you need to do with your kid.

I also remember being told…

Don’t start that or he will never get out of your bed.

It is going to be a fight to get him in his own bed.

I remember thinking, “How many 16-year-old boys sleep in bed with their parents still?” I really didn’t see that this would be a problem. And, just for the record, Conner is now 2 1/2 and chooses to sleep in his own bed! We didn’t go through stages of fighting with him, and we still allow him in our bed if he is scared or just needs some extra snuggle time. I know one day way too soon, he will not want to snuggle anymore, so bring it on!

While other moms were Facebooking about getting no sleep because the baby was up all night, we were starting to get several hours of uninterrupted sleep. We wondered why more people weren’t doing it, but I have since discovered, I think there are a lot of closet co-sleepers.

People voiced their safety concerns…

There are more SIDS cases in co-sleepers.

You can rollover and kill the baby.

I must express my deepest concern with co-sleeping safely!

Including statistics with those under the influence of drugs or alcohol is unfair to those of us who practice co-sleeping safely. As far as SIDS go, there is a lot of research that actually shows the opposite is true.

As I was researching, I came across Dr. Sears and his list of co-sleeping benefits. I was already loving co-sleeping, but this just encouraged me further.

So why do we love it?

  • More sleep!
  • Nursing while laying down
  • Snuggling with my baby
  • Waking up to see his sweet smile
  • Laughing and giggling at night and in the morning
  • Etc.

So when Elias came home, he was used to sleeping in his own crib at the NICU. He did this for the first few months, especially since he was still on oxygen and monitors, but once everything came off, it wasn’t long. He was up and crying and needed to be nursed. I was tired and in need of rest, so in our bed he came, and we’ve been loving and snuggling ever since.

Do you enjoy co-sleeping? What are the benefits for you?

Touchy Topic: Attachment Parenting

Not long after becoming a mom, I discovered attachment parenting. I have grown to love this parenting style; it suits me well!

I remember, as a new mom, people would say, “Don’t spoil the baby.” This was in regards to holding the baby too much, or responding when the baby would cry, etc. I HATED this! How in world can you spoil a BABY?!?!?

To me, it only made sense that a baby must cry to communicate. How else does he tell me he is hungry or needs to be changed? I did my best to make sure he was taken care of and didn’t need to cry, but sometimes things happen and he needed to communicate that he was unhappy.

So many people offered advice and strict rules that needed to be set to keep things in order.

You must feed your baby every 3 hours. No more. No less.

Lay your baby down at the exact same time everyday for naps and evening.

Baby needs to cry-it-out in order to learn that you are in charge.

These rules did not fit my parenting style. They did not work for me or my husband. Attachment parenting seemed to lead in the direction my heart was going.

What is Attachment Parenting? (according to Dr. Sears)

  • Birth Bonding – Skin-to-skin contact immediately (or as soon as possible) after birth, and rooming in if you are at the hospital.
  • Breastfeeding
  • Babywearing – I love having my baby close, and this allows me to get things done when the baby is fussy and wants to be held. Personally, I use the ring slings when they are smaller and for quick trips, like walks and grocery shopping, and I use the Ergo as they get bigger.
  • Bedding Close to Baby – This is probably the most controversial of all of the attachment parenting choices. Co-sleeping can be done directly in your own bed, or by making your bed “bigger” with a crib or beds made specifically for this.
  • Belief in the Language Value of Your Baby’s Cry – Babies cry to communicate, not to manipulate. Learn to listen to the cries and take care of the needs of your baby.
  • Beware of Baby Trainers (Baby Wise, Cry-It-Out, etc.) – AP teaches to watch your baby and his cues instead of a clock or some rules.
  • Balance – Don’t lose yourself in AP, but learn when AP is necessary, and when you need to make time for yourself.

Benefits of Attachment Parenting

  • Giving
  • Shaping – Studies have shown that babies who are a result of AP turn out to be caring, compassionate, connected, careful and confident, and the parents are confident too.
  • Sensitivity
  • Promotes Independence
  • Baby Cries Less
  • Improves Development
  • Babies Are Smarter
  • Reduces the Risk of SIDS

James and I have enjoyed many benefits of AP. We strongly believe it is why our children are so happy and feel such a close connection with both myself and my husband. Our children also sleep great and know they are welcome to snuggle anytime.

You can find more information at www., but I prefer Dr. Sears website. It is easier to navigate!

Do you use the attachment parenting style? How well has it worked for you?

Touchy Topic: My Experience with Breastfeeding Part 2

Check out Part 1.

When my second son, Elias, was born, he surprised us by arriving at 25 1/2 weeks. At 1 lb 12 oz, he was immediately taken to the NICU. We were only able to lightly touch the bottom of his feet or the top of his head. Needless to say, I was unable to nurse him, and he was not coming home with us. Not only was he not coming home when I was released from the hospital, but we had no idea when he would get to come home.

What was I going to do? Well, they could give him formula, or I could just pump every 3 hours around the clock! I HATED pumping, so this thought seemed like my worst nightmare, but I knew he needed my milk more than ever. The doctors and nurses talked about what an important role breast milk can have on babies, especially preemies!

Pumping became less of a chore, and more like my only means of taking care of my baby in such a helpless time. I was also teaching during his stay in the hospital, and briefly after, so I would have to give up any of my planning, grading, and scheduling time so I could pump.

Elias stayed in the hospital 76 days, and was unable to successfully nurse until the end of his stay. The doctors and nurses were amazed at how well he was doing and that he was going home almost a month before his actual due date!

I believe that prayers and his mother’s milk played a large role in this. They also stated again the importance of the breast milk. For that reason, I have donated some of my milk to Mother’s Milk Bank and encourage others to do so. Milk banks provide milk to preemies and other sick children, who would strongly benefit from breast milk, but whose mothers are either unable or unwilling to provide the milk.

Elias and I have strongly bonded through breastfeeding, and my husband and I made the decision for me to quit teaching and stay home with my children, so this allowed me to pump less and nurse more.

During this experience, I have had trouble with my right nipple again and suffered a terrible case of mastitis. I highly recommend using a nipple cream with lanolin, especially at first, to avoid cracks, or at least ease the pain if they occur.

The joys, the bonds, the fact that both my children are so healthy, even my micro preemie that should have a lot of issues, are direct results of breastfeeding! I have been nursing Elias now for 14 months.

Do I have days when I cannot wait to have my boobs back to myself? YES! Do I have days when I dread when it is all over, and I have no more babies to nurse? YES! The joys of breastfeeding! I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Did you enjoy breastfeeding? How long did you nurse your babies?

Touchy Topic: My Experience with Breastfeeding Part 1

Breastfeeding is one of my passions, and a topic I often wonder why we even have to talk about. It seems like such a natural and obvious thing to do, so it baffles me that women CHOOSE not to do it.

Now before you yell at me, all the many reasons why you couldn’t or didn’t, hear me out. This is my story.

When my first son Conner was born, there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to nurse him. I had little idea of what to expect, but was prepared to take it on. I knew the benefits of breastfeeding (LOVE this post on breastfeeding! She did a great job!), and was prepared to take on the pains and discomfort it may involve.

Between the benefits, the fact that it is FREE, and that it is so obviously how God created us, I was ready to take it on. After Conner was born, the hospital kept us an entire week because of the infection he MIGHT have. OK… so that is a whole entirely different blog post 🙂 but during the first few days, this hospital, that claimed to be supportive of breastfeeding, made us mix my milk with formula. Obviously he needed things my milk didn’t offer him :-|.

Isn’t is funny how we think we know better than God? We think we can create something that could protect and strengthen our precious babies better than God. OK, so yeah, God has given us the skills and brains, and I think formula is good for those who truly cannot nurse their babies, but this is such a rare occurrence that is often used as an excuse to not breastfeed.

It only took us a couple of days feeding him formula with my milk, to stand up and say no. I know my baby best, not some doctor or hospital. I was giving him exactly what he needed and he would come out strong. I tell you this to encourage you to stand up for yourself. Sometimes, when we are told to do something from a doctor, we assume this is the best possible decision, but as a mom, I have studied and researched, and I know what is best, too. I will listen to what they have to say, but that does not mean they get the final say.

Moving on–a couple of months after Conner was born, I decided to go back to teaching. This meant working full-time, and if I was going to continue to breastfeed, it was going to take some extra work. The teaching schedule does not leave a lot of room for pumping. I would have to give up some of my planning period and almost all of my lunch break, which meant eating alone and super fast.

Dedication and determination are what kept me going through those difficult times. I knew it was important for my baby to get my milk, and I knew I needed to keep my milk supply up. I also worked with my mom, who watched him at first, to make sure she didn’t feed him within a couple of hours before I would get there, so I could nurse him as soon as I arrived.

Nursing brought terrible sores on my right nipple, that would often crack terribly and bleed while feeding. The pain was so unbearable that it made it difficult to want to continue, but I pushed through with the use of Lanolin, prayers, and tears. Pushing through, I found the joys and bonding that came with breastfeeding.

Conner and I had such an amazing bond, and we cherished these moments together. I saved a lot of money by breastfeeding! It was free (aside from the cost of the pump… which was well worth it), and I attribute breast milk as one of the reasons my son was so healthy. I nursed him just over 14 months.

Stay tuned for Part 2…

Treating Mastitis Naturally: Part 3

Part 1 and Part 2

Aside from seeking out advice from educated friends, I also went to my trusty web browser to google for natural remedies*. Of the things I found, here is what I did to take care of my mastitis.

  • Rest: Fortunately, my husband was able to come home early that Friday night, and then we had all day Saturday and Sunday. What a relief! I was able to sleep a lot and lay around and do nothing. I felt horrible, so I doubt I would have done a good job at anything I did anyways. I also called on some amazing people to help me once James went back to work. My mom, friend Krystle, and dad’s wife Laurie all came over to help with the boys and the house. I am blessed by their help and it was huge in helping me heal.
  • Nurse: I kept nursing despite how painful it was. And made sure to do it extra on the infected side. I even tried different, weird positions with him so he could pull the milk out. With the help of my husband that Sunday morning, we put him in a different position than we normally do. It was AWFUL; the most pain I have ever been in while nursing, but once he was done I felt such relief. It almost felt good.
  • Pumping: After I would nurse, or on occasion when he refused to nurse on that side, I would pump to pull the milk out.
  • Garlic: A nurse friend of mine, recommended cutting up garlic cloves in to small pieces and swallowing. It was not fun, but not as bad as you may think. Garlic is a natural anti-biotic! I now keep this on hand and take the pills daily.
  • Echinacea: I started taking these pills because they are an immune booster, and take them daily now, too.  After another week, I will stop taking it for a while because I’ve heard Echinacea should be taken in cycles; once your system is used to it, it won’t help much, so you have to take a break from it for a while.
  • Hot Shower: I took very hot showers and would massage the infected breast to get the milk out and unplug the ducts.
  • Heating Pad: My husband bought me a heating pad to place on the breast right before I was going to nurse. This helps with getting the milk to flow.
  • Cold Cabbage Leaves: Cabbage leaves are an anti-inflammatory. The cold helps bring the swelling down.
  • No Bra, Just a T-Shirt: Nothing else to say :). I didn’t leave the house, just laid around braless.
  • Drinking Lots of Water

I was also reminded not to give up, and encouraged that it will take 7-10 days. During this time, we watched my temperature and made sure I was never running a fever. If the symptoms continued past this time then I knew I should get an antibiotic.

*Websites I referenced:

Have you had mastitis? What natural things did you do to cure your mastitis?