Monday, May 25, 2015

Are You Good Enough?


In my line of work I talk to a lot of breastfeeding moms. I also talk to many moms who are thinking about breastfeeding but aren't 100% sure, as well as many expecting moms who want to breastfeed longer with this baby than they did with their last.

Of the moms and expecting moms who want to breastfeed or are thinking about it, there is one very common theme to why they aren't sure, or why it didn't work out last time.

What is it you ask?

Milk Supply.

I talk to first time expecting moms whose own mom (or sister, or friend, or cousin, or neighbor's cousin's daughter) "wasn't able to make enough milk", so they aren't sure how it will go for them, either.

I talk to expecting moms who "weren't able to make enough milk" with their first.

I talk to currently breastfeeding moms who "aren't able to make enough milk."

So......what in the world is going on? Why are so many moms not able to produce enough milk for their babies all the sudden? For thousands of years mamas had to produce milk or their babies would die. Is it something going on with with the human race? Did something suddenly happen that we aren't able to create milk the way our great great grandmas were? Is there something going on with babies? Are they not able to nurse as well as they used to? Or is there something else? Is something going on in our culture and environment that has caused this effect of a great human-milk shortage?

Well, I have a theory. In addition to many things that have been proven to reduce milk supply, I think that a lot of it has to do with our culture and the ongoing and persistent message that womens' bodies aren't good enough and that they are going to fail them and their babies. Whether from the media or their friends or family, the message is clear: pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and parenting, sucks. You aren't going to be good enough, and even if you think you are and want to do what's best for yourself and baby, "just wait - it'll get worse."

It starts in pregnancy: "Oh, I was SO sick - enjoy your morning sickness!" "You're feeling good in pregnancy? Just wait....soon you'll be so uncomfortable you won't want to move" "You're pregnant? Congratulations! Just wait until the heartburn sets in" "Just wait until childbirth - I just about died when I had my baby!"

Then in childbirth: "Isn't that baby here yet??" "How long are they going to let you go?" "Oh, just get the epidural as soon as you walk in the door - you don't have to be a hero." "Thank god my doctor saved my baby - he did an emergency cesarean at 5:04 pm last Friday because my body just wouldn't progress past 6 cm." "You're going to try for a natural birth? Good luck with that."

Then with breastfeeding: "They told me at the hospital that I didn't have enough milk, so I had to give my baby formula." "I was only able to breastfeed for 2 weeks with my first, then my milk production just stopped." "My doctor told me I had to quit breastfeeding so I could take the meds I needed." "I dried up" "My body just couldn't produce milk" "My baby was too hungry and needed more than I could give him"

Then with parenting: "Oh, what a cute baby! I hope he doesn't have colic like my babies did. It was terrible." "Your baby has colic? Just wait until he reaches the terrible twos!" "Your toddler throws fits at the store? Just wait until she reaches the tween years!" "Your tween is moody now? Just wait until she is in high school!"

"Just wait - it gets worse!!"

Seriously - what IS it with our society? Why in the world do we think we have to spread the worst possible scenario all the time? And why is it a bragging right to have the worst thing happen to you?

I truly believe that our breastfeeding rates and successes have plummeted in part because of this pervasive attitude that our bodies won't work for us - I mean, they don't for anyone else, so why would mine work for me?

Even some doctor's offices have issues with this. I was talking to a new mom recently and she shared something with me that I remember happening to me with my first baby, too. She is an exclusive breastfeeder. Her baby doesn't get a bottle of any kind. When she went in for her baby's well baby check, the nurse asked her how much her baby eats. She said "I'm not sure. I nurse when he's hungry." The nurse asked "well, about how much does he eat when he does?" Mom says "I can't measure that - I exclusively breastfeed" Nurse says "So you don't know how many ounces he is getting?" basically saying "How do we know he is getting enough?"

I remember having that exact conversation when Vienna was a baby. It was like the nurse didn't know any other way to measure a baby's intake than by how many ounces she was getting. And how do we regularly know how many ounces a baby takes in? By feeding them a bottle*. Not that bottles are bad, it's the implication that there's no way to measure health except by the ounces taken in. So we should bottle feed so that we know how much they are getting.

And then there's employers who aren't on board with providing their employees a private place to pump when they go back to work, nor enough breaks and time to do so.

And don't even get me started on some doctors telling moms to just stop breastfeeding for one reason or another. Instead of digging in and finding out what may be causing any issues, it's much easier to just put that baby on formula and not have to deal with it anymore.

Well, I for one want to make a change in the way moms think about and see their bodies and their abilities as parents.

I want to scream from the rooftops: YOU WERE MADE TO DO THIS - YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH!!

You can grow your baby in your womb. You can birth your baby. You can feed your baby from your own body. You are the perfect mama for your baby, and you don't have to "just wait" until it gets worse. You are perfectly equipped to take parenting as it comes and will do a great job! Just follow your God-given mama-instincts and you will be just fine. It doesn't have to be the horrible experience that everyone is so quick to tell you it will be. It's ok to enjoy it. It's ok to be good at it. It's ok to not let the tough times dictate what you share with other, younger moms. It's ok to be an encourag-er.

I'm here to tell you: you CAN do it, and I'm confident that you are GREAT!

~Evie

As a side note, I want to acknowledge that there are legitimate medical reasons that a mom can't grow, vaginally birth, or breastfeed their babies. This commentary is directed toward the way culture in America makes so many believe they can't, even when they can....

*There are other ways you can measure how many ounces your baby is getting even when exclusively breastfeeding. Talk to your lactation consultant for more information.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Happening This Weekend

Are you a member of our Facebook Chat Group? If not, then you definitely need to join! You'll get the latest scoop on all the "goings-on" in Elegant Mommy-land :)


For instance, did you know that tomorrow we are holding a "Knit & Nurture" group at 10:30? It's a great place to come and knit while visiting with other mamas. Our friend Molly will be there as the group leader, and she can help you learn to knit if you are just getting started - don't miss out - it's a great place to be!


But the big news for the weekend, is that starting here in a couple hours, Elegant Mommy will be hosting a huge Silent Auction on our Facebook page! We love silent auctions and are excited to bring you some seriously AMAZING good deals! We need to move some product OUT, so you will reap the rewards!

Beginning at noon, you will be able to bid on all of our clearance and discontinued merchandise, silent auction style! We will list a starting bid for each item, then whoever want it can bid in $1 increments (you will just need to give us your email address). Whomever bids highest by Sunday evening at 8 pm will get the item.

All sales are final and will be billed by paypal on Monday. Payment must be received within 24 hours and if an item needs to be shipped, winner will pay for shipping.

So, you just need to get your bidding fingers ready to type in your bids (you can shop from the comfort of your own home!) and we will get all of our awesome merchandise ready to be yours. We'll "see" you on Facebook soon!

Have a wonderful weekend!

~Evie

Monday, May 11, 2015

Liquid Love

One of my friends is tandem nursing her sweet girls. She is a new La Leche League leader in Winner, SD, and she has been travelling to Mitchell for La Leche League for a couple years now. Talk about a dedicated breastfeeding mama!

She also worked hard earlier this year to help us get legislation passed to protect breastfeeding in public here in South Dakota.

She recently shared this lovely poem that she wrote about her breastfeeding relationship with her oldest daughter, Lillace, in our Mitchell LLL Facebook group. I wanted to share it with you, because it certainly touched me, and I really think you will enjoy it as well.


Liquid Love

We’ve been through a lot on this nursing endeavor,
In all my life, it’s been one of the most amazing adventures.
Through it all you’ve hung on tight,
And so far, there’s no end in sight.
I’ll never forget that first latch,
In that recovery room, there was no doubt; you knew just what to do…we were the perfect match.
While you nursed, you looked so at peace,
I’d never seen anything more beautiful…not even in a dream.
Those first few days in the hospital seemed so easy,
But when we got home, life wasn’t so breezy.
My poor girl, you were so confused…nursing had become both your pleasure and your pain,
I didn’t know what to do…my resolve to stick with it was beginning to wane.
Finally we figured it out…no more dairy for Mama,
But there was never a doubt that it was absolutely worth it…you were so much happier and calmer.
My Baby Lillace, the first time you smiled was while you were nursing,
Special memories like this make my heart so full that it feels like it’s bursting.
I know nursing means so much to you,
It’s always been far more than just food.
It is comfort and love,
It gives us a deep connection…like your soul is giving mine a hug.
When life gets too overwhelming, and you’re not sure what to do,
A little time spent nursing helps you calm down and relax…maybe it’s the snuggles…maybe it’s the “juice”.
Nursing you means a lot to me too…more than I could ever put into words,
Knowing that it will some day be just a memory, makes my heart literally hurt.
When you nurse, it’s like my heart is singing a song that only you can hear,
And to my soul I will forever hold these songs dear.
It’s more than just “liquid gold” that flows from me to you,
It’s peace, adoration, devotion…it’s liquid love too.
We’ve gotten through a lot by nursing,
RSV, pneumonia, ear infections, influenza…teething.
I love watching the interaction between you and your sister while nursing together,
The sight of you two holding hands will pull at my heartstrings…forever.
I’m not sure how old you will be when you wean,
Or if when you look back at your life, these memories will be seen.
Either way my dear, please know I will always look back at nursing you with fondness.
And I know this time together will forever bond us.

With love from my heart to yours,
Mommy (May 2015)


Thank you Rachel - your words are just beautiful and I think there are a lot of mamas out there who agree. Nursing our sweet babies is like giving them "Liquid Love"

~Evie

Friday, May 8, 2015

Celebrating YOU

Mother's Day is almost here!

I don't know what your family or kiddos will do to celebrate you on Sunday...it might be a big celebration that honors and thanks you, takes care of you, and shows you exactly how much you are loved and cherished by them.

Then again, it may be a whole lotta nothin.

No matter what you family does for you, know that WE are celebrating you! Here at Elegant Mommy we know *exactly* what you go through, all you do, and most of all how important you are. Being a mom is tough sometimes. Really tough other times. But all the time it's worth it.

Don't worry how much you're screwing up - we are all right there with ya. We are all just human - we make mistakes and just need to learn from them. Pick yourself up and move on. It'll be ok.

And don't underestimate how much the little things that you do matter.

You are doing a GREAT job mama! Keep it up and know that you have a village of other moms who love you and are here to support you through this journey called motherhood.



Happy Mother's Day!!

~Evie

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Oh, It's Possible

So the past few days the interwebs have been blowing up with commentary - both positive and negative - about Kate Middleton & Prince William welcoming their second baby, a sweet little girl.

Much of the commentary has been about how beautiful the baby is (and she IS! Have you seen her?), much has been about the lineage of the Royal Family and where this sweet princess falls in the way of the crown (blah, blah, blah), but most of what I've seen is commentary on Kate and how she looked in their first photo op as they were leaving the hospital.

Because how a mom looks when she leaves after giving birth is the most important thing of ever. Certainly not how she feels or how the birth went or how breastfeeding is going. I even saw a comment on Facebook that it must have been a c-section because she looked so good.

Wow. Just wow.

I've also seen a lot of commentary on how the royal surgeons were standing by, but it seems as if two midwives were actually the ones to catch the sweet princess (note I didn't say deliver the sweet princess - Kate did the delivering, thank you very much).

Now, I obviously don't know how the birth went down, but I do know a few things and based on what I know can make a couple assumptions.

First of all I would bet money that she didn't have a cesarean birth. Walking out of the hospital 10 hours after giving birth would be pretty darn difficult if she had - certainly not impossible, but difficult.

Secondly, since she actually does look as good as she does, I'm guessing that her birth was pretty natural with little-to-no interventions whatsoever.

One of the blog posts I read was written by a mom who didn't see how it was even possible for Kate to look the way she did. The author then went into detail about how horrendous she felt and looked after she gave birth. How swollen she was everywhere - feet, hands, face, etc; how miserable she felt; how she just absolutely couldn't believe that anyone could even stand upright, let alone the pain of having just delivering a watermelon sized object through a grapefruit sized opening wilst wearing a "diaper" for her postpartum flow. It really was convincing, and I can totally understand where she is coming from.

Based on the things this author was saying, I'm guessing she had a bit of an "assembly line" birth experience. From the sounds of it she likely had an IV for fluids (which can cause extra swelling after birth) perhaps while being induced with Pitocin or maybe along with an epidural (which can cause back pain, making it difficult for some to stand upright for a little while), and if those things were true she likely was told to "push, push, push - as hard as you can" while laying flat on her back which very easily could have caused a tear or maybe she was even given an episiotomy. If those things are all true, she could have also easily had forceps or a vacuum used to help pull the baby out - all of which can contribute to more excessive vaginal pain than if her tissues remained intact and instruments weren't used. Now obviously this is all speculation - I have no idea how this mama actually gave birth.

As a doula I have seen all kinds of births. I have had 3 very different births myself. One thing I know for sure, though, is that the less interventions that are used, the less chance for all of those dramatic after-birth symptoms. Can you feel rotten after having a completely natural and non-intervention birth? Of course. Can you feel great after a very intervention-driven birth? Absolutely! Are the chances as great for either? Definitely not.

Every single intervention used during birth blocks some natural function that your body normally performs. Sometimes they are necessary for one reason or another, but many times they are used because something else was blocked so mom's body isn't doing exactly what it should. For instance: When a mom is induced with Pitocin, it doesn't cross the blood-brain barrier, and Oxytocin (the natural, mom-created hormone that causes contractions) is overtaken and not produced in very high volume. Since the natural hormones are not in full swing, natural pain-relieving endorphines are also blocked from being produced in high volume. Since mom is having contractions and her body isn't making as many natural pain-relieving endorphines, she is more likely to opt for an epidural, which blocks things even more. She won't be able to move around much (if at all), and will likely deliver on her back, which reduces her pelvic size by 30%. Since her pelvis is much smaller and there is less room for baby to come out (not to mention she's pushing "uphill"), doc might open up her vaginal opening more with an episiotomy or even use foreceps or a vacuum because mom is just so exhausted from pushing for so long and not making enough progress.

Do you see the domino effect?

I am one that felt absolutely wonderful after my natural, intervention-free births. If I had an army of people dressing me, styling me, and getting me "glammed up" for a public appearance, I totally could have done what Kate Middleton did....heels and all.

Would I have wanted to do that?

Not in a million years.

You know what I was doing 10 hours after my last birth? I was snuggled up with my sweet new squish, nursing her in my jammies in the super quiet and restful comfort of the couch in my own living room. My husband was right next to us, the kiddos were sleeping soundly after a late night full of the excitement of welcoming their new baby sister, and it was blissful.

I don't know the details of Kate's birth, and frankly unless she wants to share them it's really none of my business. What I do know is that she is a brand new mom and no matter how her birth went I pray she gets some snuggles and bonding in with her new little arrival. I hope that after her brief public appearance while leaving the hospital that she can put herself into a new-mama-cocoon like I did and lounge in sweats, hair in a ponytail and no makeup. Her sweet baby is way more important than how made-up she looks anyway. Just because it's possible to look that glamorous after giving birth doesn't mean she should have to.

Happy baby moon, Dutchess Kate!

~Evie

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Where Will YOU Be on Saturday?

Have you ever been to The Little Things Birth & Baby Expo in Sioux Falls before?



Whether you have or haven't, you DEFINITELY need to check it out. Just mark your calendars, cancel your other commitments and plan to spend your afternoon there. You'll be glad you did! It will be chock full of awesome vendors, education presentations throughout the day, AND a lactation room....especially for those mamas who need a quiet place to take a break and sit while nourishing their little one.

There will also be a special babywearing fashion show! You'll get to see mamas and daddies all wearing their sweet little ones in different styles of carriers, wraps, and ring slings - it will be awesome!

As their website says:
The Little Things is a family centered event where Moms and Dads are welcomed by the area's most respected businesses. As our area's only birth and baby expo, The Little Things offers local families the opportunity to discover the wide range of products and services that are available from conception throughout the parenting journey. 
Elegant Mommy, Educated Mommy, and many many many businesses and organizations that you for SURE want to become acquainted with if you haven't yet will be there! And a little birdie told me that Elegant Mommy may or may not have some deals exclusively available at the expo. But you'll have to go to see for yourself ;)

Seriously - it is the place to be on Saturday!

We hope to see you there!!

~Evie

Monday, April 27, 2015

It's Spring!!

Ok, so I know that it's technically been spring for awhile now, so this post is a wee bit overdue, but with the beautiful weather today I just wanna go outside and dance in the dandelions!

There's just something about springtime, isn't there? I'm sitting here at my desk watching a robin dance around in our yard pecking at food. As the neighboring petals fall off their blooming branches it leaves the illusion of snow gently floating down and filling our yard, but instead of cold it brings the sweetest and freshest perfume through my open window.

Ahhhhhh.

Spring.........

Such renewal. Such life. Such perfect rejuvenation of color in a previously brown and cold world. Such a perfect time to begin thinking about a garden.

Wait. Did I just say a garden?

Oh, how I love the idea of a garden! Growing our own food....knowing exactly what was put into it, the digging, the planting, the relaxing sight of growing plants, the "therapeutic" weeding, the care taken....the dying of said plants, the overabundance of weeds, the too-close-to-grow-well-plants, the mosquito bites.

Ugh.

I seriously love the idea of a garden. Note: I said the "idea" of a garden.

Actually growing a garden? Not so much.

For some reason I've deluded myself for many many years that I like to garden and that I'm actually good at it. The reality that I've finally admitted to is that I truly don't like to grow a garden, and I'm really not very good at it. Last year I didn't even try because I was pregnant and I knew I wouldn't do a very good job at it, but this year I put a stop to my own nonsense and told my husband that if he wants one he can totally do it, but it won't be mine, and I won't even attempt to fake liking to take care of it.

Honestly the only part I really enjoy is planting the seeds and watching the sprouts come up. Working the ground? No. Some people find weeding therapeutic. Not me - I think it sucks. Some people think that pruning and maintaining and nurturing the plants is the perfect escape. I want to feel that way too, I really truly do! But I don't.

I kind of think that the main reason I want to like to garden, is that I really love to can fresh produce. There is something pretty awesome about preserving food to use throughout the year. It makes that pot of chili so much more delicious knowing that the tomatoes were fresh and that I put them up myself. It makes those cheesy green beans even more tasty because I know exactly where they came from, and the corn? Oh, the sweet corn......SO good!

Anyway, I've reached the final and obvious conclusion that I'm not going to worry about a garden. I have so many friends and family that are super awesome at gardening. Many of them have extra produce to share. And if they don't? There are great farmers markets that I can get from, or a colony, or a CSA, or.......

Bottom line? I LOVE spring! I LOVE gardens! I LOVE fresh produce! I LOVE putting up produce! I DON'T love to garden!

So.....

I'll just be sitting here this lovely spring day dreaming about the beautiful garden you can plant while I enjoy the smells and views of the season. And then I'll put the dandelion bouquets that the kiddos pick me in exquisite vases (or you know...coffee cups - whatever) as I ooo and aaa over the beauty of them. Because that's what spring is all about - beauty in new life. :)

Happy Spring!
~Evie