Can Moms with Different Parenting Styles Still be Friends?

This article, “Can Moms with Different Parenting Styles Still be Friends” caught my eye this morning.  I think because I have often thought about this, especially when my boys were younger, and we have talked  about “judgement” in the Bosom Buddies Breastfeeding Support Group many times. We have talked about how judging other mothers and other parents can be so harmful since we all parent different. Here is a post I wrote awhile back about the harm of judging parenting in public especially when the scenario involves a child who is autistic. Since we never know the whole story and have not walked in the other parent’s shoes there has to be a better way to show support or kindness.  Even moms and dads parents differently, each with their own style, so we are bound to run into other mothers who just don’t “see it” or “do it” like we do.

Parenting can be like politics.  Everyone has their own opinion and those who deviate from your passionate stance can cause a strong visceral like response. My hubby begs me to not talk politics at parties or in any social situation because I can get “heated”.  I love debating and I can be very opinionated (and of course, my opinion is the right one [said with a smile]).  Parenting is like that; we feel strongly about our beliefs and how we choose to raise our kids.

Soooo can moms with differing parenting styles still be friends?  What do you think?

This video was released a few weeks ago and I posted it on The Lactation Lady, LLC Facebook fanpage but I want to add it to this post.  I loved this video when I saw it–I love the mom, her facial expressions and intonation of her voice are perfect.  I have said all these things at some point in time. I did not “share it” on my personal Facebook page because I know that may of my fiends would not “get it”–many of my friends think I am that “crunchy/crazy” momma and they did and do not feel the same way I do–but they are my friends nonetheless.  For all you crunchy momma out there, I hope you get a good laugh:

“Recovery Time” After Childbirth

An article in a UK paper today caught my eye, “Women need a whole year to recover from childbirth despite the ‘fantasy’ image of celebrity mothers, study claims.”  Article here,
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2102517/Women-need-year-recover-childbirth-study-finds.html  Quote from article:

“New mothers may be told that they will be back to ‘normal’ within six weeks of giving birth, but a new study has found that most women take much longer to recover.”

I love that they put normal in quotes because the reality is that there is no normal and NOTHING will ever be the same but I would go on to argue over the use of recovery too.  There is no recovery–instead of thinking that women need to recover, as if this was a malady or illness, I prefer to think of it as “time to adjust” or “transition”.  Time to adjust to the new “normal” or transition into the beginning stages of parenthood.

Six weeks is NOT enough time to adjust.  Parenthood is a whole new ballgame.  Giving women more time to transition into their new role, supporting them as a new mother, would benefit society as a whole.  A mother who has had time to adjust to her new role as a parent may transition more easily into a working mother’s role when compared to the mother who must return to work at six weeks.  The stress and pressure of a new mother returning to work impacts her family negatively.  The mother at six week has not fully adjusted physically or mentally—not to mention the negative effect on the breastfeeding relationship.

Wouldn’t it be nice if mothers were given a full year to adjust to “their new job”.

Why would anyone post breastfeeding pictures on Facebook?

In response to the Facebook “Nurse-In” that took place yesterday, we had a discussion on our Bosom Buddies Breastfeeding Support Group online boards about why would anyone want to post pictures of themselves nursing on Facebook.

If breastfeeding was perceived as “Normal” and not sexual or offensive then there would be no issue.  Yes, you can choose to be discreet if that is what makes you comfortable, but the controversy of women nursing in public (in Target, at a gym, in a restaurant–etc) included women who WERE NURSING DISCREETLY.  It is your RIGHT to breastfeed–in fact the medical community asks you to do it–exclusively feed your infant breastmilk for 6 months (and continue to breastfeed for at LEAST one year–at least 2 years or more according to the WHO).

 

We have spent a lot of time talking about breastfeeding in public in the past at our group sessions.  I shared with the moms that in the beginning when I had my first, if anyone had asked if I would nurse in public, I probably would have responded with, “If I have to, but only if I have some privacy.”  However, reality soon sets in when you have a baby and before I knew it or had given it any thought at all, I was nursing at the mall on a bench, at the dentist’s office, while getting my hair cut, while at a restaurant–you name it, I did it.  No flaunting it–just feeding my babies.

 

In fact at one point our Bosom Buddies group  handed out the following “thank yous” from  the book “The Breastfeeding Cafe” (the excerpt is written by Lissa Russell):

 

“Thank you for nursing your baby in public.  You are not only nourishing your child, but the hearts and minds of everyone here.  When nursing in America is more common and understood, the credit will go to women like you.  I thank you on behalf of my grandmother, who had never heard of breastfeeding.  I thank you on behalf of my mother, who hadn’t a single soul to support her nurturing instinct.  I thank you on behalf of my daughters, granddaughters and friends [added friends for those women like me who do not have daughters], may they never think twice when their children thirst.  May they never search for a “secluded corner,” a dressing room, or a restroom.  I thank you on behalf of every woman who ever was or ever will be.  Have a beautiful day! (Behrmann, 2008, pg. 213).”

 

My favorite artist/cartoonist is Heather Cushman-Dowdee–she had a great cartoon that I cannot find right now but it went like this–Mother nursing in public–nearby woman starts talking out loud so mother can hear about how offended she is and why is there no cover (hooter hider)–the nursing mother hears and says, “I’m sorry” while politely covering the offended lady with the cover.  I love this humor–it touches me and makes me feel supported in my choice to breastfeed–it helps break down barriers for nursing mothers.  Here is Heather’s Facebook page–she posted all day yesterday in support of the nursing mothers on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/mama.is.comic  Here is her awesome website, http://www.mama-is.com/

 

I can’t think of any woman who is nursing and bares her breasts in public with the intention of drawing attention to herself –wanting others to notice and ridicule her/humiliate her.  Instead women who nurse in public are looking for a clean, convenient place to nurse and care for their babies. Most of our states have laws to support public breastfeeding (NJ does).  Yes, it is sad that a law is needed but alas that is the case.

The Facebook issue emerged a few years ago and recently got more press (the issue never really went away).  Here is a group established years ago to protest the removal of photos–you can look through the old photos, https://www.facebook.com/groups/2517126532/photos/ –they are very touching.

 

Posting pictures, nursing in public–getting the word out normalizes breastfeeding to help rid our society of that “offended” visceral reaction.  For example…

 

Most people would not find this offensive on Facebook or in a magazine (a girl in a bikini–underwear on display–low cut/cleavage):
or this But this photo caused reactions that were border line ridiculous
P. S. this photo is actress Julie Bowen breastfeeding her twins (the actress from Modern Family)
or this magazine cover that caused such a controversy
Here is one of my favorites–there are many depictions of Madonna feeding her baby–whoops, she did not get the message that breastfeeding in public is offensive–where is her cover?? 🙂
P.S. when we talked about this in the past, I mentioned to the moms that one of my BIGGEST regrets was not having a photo of me nursing.  I am very sad about that.  Nursing made me feel strong, powerful, nurturing, and special–I am so proud that I nursed; there is no good way to explain how important is was to me, but nothing else I have done in my life or will do can compare.  I would have loved to have a photo of me nursing one of my boys.

Asthmatic Mothers Encouraged to Breastfeed

Mothers who suffer from asthma should be encouraged to breastfeed according to new research published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine,  http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/03/us-breastfeeding-lungs-idUSTRE8120EF20120203.  This article from Reuters claims that in the past evidence was inconclusive regarding the benefits of breastfeeding for asthmatic mothers, but I beg to differ.  Breastfeeding is the preferred feeding method for infants especially those with family histories of allergies (asthma is an allergy).  In fact this was one of my many reasons for choosing to breastfeed my own children.  I suffered horribly from asthma my whole life; it was only in my 30s after having my children that my asthma improved (do to healthy living choices I made and improved medical treatment).  I did not want the same experience for my little ones–breastfeeding reduces the risk of asthma and allergies and that was important to me.

Here is a quote from the article:

“I think the evidence is that breastfeeding increases lung volume, independent of if the mother is asthmatic or not,” said Dr. Wilfried Karmaus, who studies asthma at the University of South Carolina in Columbia and wasn’t involved in the new work.

“If the lung volume is increased, then you are less susceptible to get asthma,” he told Reuters Health. “It’s important even to tell asthmatic mothers to breastfeed their children.”

Breastfeeding, Pumping, SuperBowl–What?

I read an article today regarding a lactation/pumping room that has been established at the SuperBowl–yes, you read that correctly–Football and Breastfeeding together forever, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/02/breastfeeding-super-bowl_n_1250902.html.  This article was a great way to start the day.  Lately it seems that women have had to fight and stand up for their rights to breastfeed in public and the workplace, often facing disparaging and ignorant remarks as a result.

Public health recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and many other health oriented organizations around the world call for exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and continued breastfeeding for at LEAST a year (2 years according to WHO and UNICEF).  We ask moms to breastfeed for their children’s health and for their health–but we don’t provide to tools or support to do it.

So it was nice to see local organizations in Indiana pulling together to support breastfeeding moms at this HUGE sporting event–LOVE IT!  What a step in the right direction.

 

Protecting Rights of Pregnant Women in the Workplace

Last week I wrote about protecting the rights of breastfeeding women in the workplace and the Federal legislation that came into effect in 2010–the pros and cons, http://thelactationlady.com/pumping-in-the-workplace/–it seems only fitting that today’s New York Times had an article about Pregnant Women and the importance of protecting their rights in the workplace, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/31/opinion/pregnant-and-pushed-out-of-a-job.html?_r=1

The author points out the crux of the problem, “Federal and state laws ban discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace. And amendments to the Americans With Disabilities Act require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled employees (including most employees with medical complications arising from pregnancies) who need them to do their jobs. But because pregnancy itself is not considered a disability, employers are not obligated to accommodate most pregnant workers in any way.”

Pregnancy is not an illness, but allowing accommodations so a woman can keep working just seem to be common sense to me.  It is a sad state of affairs when we actually need laws to protect discrimination against women and they have to be extremely detailed since we cannot rely on “culture” to do the right thing.  Laws are needed and they must specifically define rights for women who are pregnant in the workplace–just like breastfeeding, whether they are laws to protect public breastfeeding or pumping in the workplace.

The health of women and children define the “health” of a society….shouldn’t that be protected.

 

Parenting Without Judgment

I just finished reading this article, http://www.additudemag.com/adhdblogs/16/9360.html in which a mother of an ADHD child describes how she has come to realize her parenting skills are often judged by other parents.  This is such a near and dear topic to me.  Not only in the case of a parent who has a child with a diagnosed disorder like ADHD or Autism but all parents feel this way at some point.

Picture the mother who is grocery shopping with a newborn and her other children in tow and someone has a tantrum (hopefully not the mom)—it does not matter what the tantrum is about—it could be about nothing, but it never fails there is always someone there to “observe” the situation and pass judgment.  Not knowing the background or the specifics–not have empathy regardless of the background or specifics does not come easy for most people.  Who knows?  Maybe the child is ill and we all know they are cranky when they are sick….or maybe that child has autism and social situations are a challenge–who are we to judge?

I am not a perfect parent and I have yet to meet that perfect parent–(those who put on the perfect parent facade are shams)—try not to pass judgement on others and be as supportive as possible–you may need the same sense of understanding and support one day.

Here is a quote from the article:

“Instead of judging parents whose children appear out of control, why not extend some empathy and compassion? To parents who don’t have an ADHD child: The next time you see a child running wild, don’t assume the parents have no control, or are bad disciplinarians. Instead, offer words of encouragement, make a comment to lighten the mood, or better yet — offer a hand. Or possibly even a cookie.”

Pumping in the Workplace

What a lot of moms and employers do not realize is that our new healthcare regulations support mothers pumping at work (the “new” Federal regulations went into place in 2010).  Yes, there are some obvious concerns about the legislation–the most important being–does it have “teeth?”.  Meaning, if an employer is non-compliant how is the issue resolved, but we have to start somewhere.

Here is a copy of the new Federal regulations, http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs73.pdf.  This fact sheet was prepared by the US Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division.  It is a great sheet for moms to provide their employers when they are planning on returning to work and need to discuss their pumping needs.

The good things about the new regulations:

1) There is a law supporting pumping in the workplace

2) Employers (who employee at least 50 employees) must provide “reasonable break time” for pumping

3) The reasonable time is defined as “as frequently as needed by the nursing mother”

4) A bathroom or non private area is NOT acceptable, “Employers are also required to provide ‘a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public’ ”

5) Although employers with less than 50 employees are not subject to the law, they have the burden of PROVING “undue hardship”

6) Although mothers will not be compensated for their pumping time, they can use regularly allotted paid break times to pump

7) The Federal regulations will not preempt State laws that may provide greater protections to the mother (however, state laws regarding pumping in the workplace are often nonexistent [such is the case here in NJ])

The cons:

1) The law only supports pumping in the work place until the infant is one year of age

2) Employers who do not have at least 50 employees are NOT subject to compliance if adherence would cause them “undue hardship”

3) “Reasonable break time” is not well defined and it puts mom in an awkward position to define/defend her pumping needs

4) There is no defined course of action or “punishment” if the employer is non-compliant