Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Lo has lately shown periodic refusal to nurse. He will hungrily latch on, but then arch his back and twist away, continuing to cry. A few of these times, we have just had Jerry give him a bottle of pumped breastmilk--validating our suspicion that the baby was indeed hungry, as he sucked one of the bottles dry in just a couple minutes. I am not sure what is going on, but have felt a bit rejected & dejected at these times. Is it me? The stress? The fact that we have all been sick around our house lately? I always imagined nursing my baby to be the never-fail method of comfort. It certainly was, during those first few months. Our baby is more complex now. I keep missing LeLeche meetings because their schedule isn't nap friendly--but I am feeling a craving to go and have my concerns addressed. Maybe I should just email the group leader. Or get advice from my lovely bloggy friends. =)

Two days ago, on this past Sunday, I had a flashback to the early infant days when Lo would nurse himself into oblivion. We had been visiting cousins (more on that visit to come in another post with pics!) and I noticed the chaos of a dozen children and half a dozen adults interacting had been wearing on our Little Tam. I trekked up four flights of stairs to a secluded alcove and nestled there, swaying my body back and forth to help Lo get focused and latched. He sucked deep, long, slow, and soon both of us seemed to bask in waves of relaxed pleasure. By the end of his nursing, Lo had fallen into a limp and glorious latency. Which promptly got broken/awoken when we went back downstairs to the din. But I have clutched at that memory since Sunday, because it is the way I want nursing to be for us--an escape, a break, a bonding time amid the crazy business of life.

We had the sister missionaries over for dinner a week or two ago, and I asked them if they minded me breastfeeding in the living room (which is just off the side of our dining area). I was slightly out of view, but could still chat while nursing. One of the sisters is from Mexico. She commented that where she is from, women will just nurse anytime, anywhere. "You could be in the middle of a conversation with a woman and she would just start breastfeeding if the baby needed it."

Ah! I wish the United States had such a child-friendly culture. I have breastfed while walking down the grocery aisles, huddled in bathroom stalls, on planes & automobiles, while typing at this computer...! etc. and sometimes have felt a deep embarrassment. Not embarrassed for myself, but rather an empathy of sorts for the awkward people around me. What a troubled world in which evil and good get interchanged and puzzled between each other. A culture that revels in breasts as sex objects, but feels distaste for the woman who gives nourishment to her infant from this part of her body...These are the rambling thoughts I have today.

And then I came across this video which shows the beauty of breastfeeding. Do you feel embarrassed by any part of it? If you are embarrassed, is it the same feeling you get from glancing at the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine while in line at the grocers or is it a different type of embarrassment? If you do not feel embarrassed, what do you feel? Do you have a favorite image? My favorites:

  • the one with the priest busying himself on the side of the woman breastfeeding (does he feel the normalcy of the nursing mom? I would not be surprised if he does, depending on the country where the photo was taken).
  • the winter snow picture, because with Lo being a winter baby, I have breastfed outside in the snow and know how cold that can be! ;)

I should add that I believe strongly in modesty. Admittedly then, it is curious to me how I do not feel I am immodest to breastfeed without a blanket/cover over me & Lo in public. Nevermind the fact that my baby rips the cover off of us both. I wonder why I feel how I do, and I wonder why other people feel the way they do...? Usually I try to reserve these musing types of posts for my personal journal. Sorry to subject you all to the meandering lack of points to this writing. Anyway. I'll be done now.


Nora said...

I love this post! They mirror some of my thoughts as well. I'll admit that before having my own baby I also felt a little awkward around people that would breastfeed their baby in public. I don't know why....and of course I was a little surprised to see women breastfeed with absolutely no shame on my mission in El Salvador. One sister even breastfed on the stand in Sacrament meeting! But since I've had my baby and I realize the importance of breastfeeding the baby whenever he is hungry no matter where you are and how annoying nursing covers are, I've often wished that I lived in El Salvador again so I wouldn't have to worry about what other people think.Anyways...
about the refusal to nurse- My son has done that before and from what I have read there can be several different reasons. Some of which are sensitivity to something in the mothers diet, reflux or ear infections. The book i read even says that although they refuse to nurse, oddly enough, they will sometimes still drink the same milk from a bottle.
K sorry for the novel. Hope this helps.

Cami said...

Thank you for this honest post and video link. I am composing my thoughts on breastfeeding as I constantly worry that my milk supply will go down. I think I'll post my reaction/thoughts on my own blog soon. I'm not afraid to talk about breastfeeding but I do find I am completely embarrassed to nurse in public.

C Tam said...

Until you mentioned it Nora, I had forgotten that I also, before having a baby, felt awkward around breastfeeding women on occasion.

Thanks for the ideas about Lo's nursing refusal. Maybe I have been eating something weird? I should get a book or two from the library.

Anna said...

Rachel has had a hard time nursing since day 2! (Day 1 wasn't so bad)
She does the arched back thing at least once a day.
Sometimes she wants to nurse on the other side (even if it's the empty one, I just let her suck anyway as long as she wants, and eventually switch back over), sometimes she wants me to change positions, sometimes she's just not hungry, and sometimes (not anymore but it used to happen all the time) I'd just have to give her a bottle.

I've also heard about the sensitivity to milk thing and the reflux thing. It might be that your milk is squirting him in the back of the throat if your breast is really full.

I know how you're feeling!

TheTamFam said...

After reading through the link you sent me via email Cami, and hearing your thoughts too Anna, I think the problem is that sometimes my body is "over enthusiastic" with milk production. I guess that's a relatively good problem to have, all things considered. But yes, a lot of the times when Little rejects the milk has been when it is already gushing hard before he latches. I don't know why my body overproduces at times. I always thought babies & moms were supposed to be synchronized somehow. But I do pump sometimes (only a few times a week or so at most), and maybe that contributes? Anyway, THANK YOU sweet girls for the listening ears. Jerry is great, but his understanding of these breastfeeding issues only goes so far, so it means a lot to hear from other women.

Trina said...

I liked the video. I think it's great when mom's breastfeed in public, especially if they do it modestly. I'd have a hard time doing it in a swimming suit because it's harder not to show anything. Usually with the right clothing you can stay pretty modest without a blanket, my kids didn't do the blanket thing after the first 3 months or so. Good luck with nursing it's a work in progress from the beginning to the end.

Jocelyn said...

why do people have issuse with breast feeding? probably because we are taught to be modest and to cover certain areas and then all of a sudden there it is and you do feel a bit uneasy. A friend of mine encountered this while passing the sacrament one time he is all for breast feeding but was a little surprised to come to the next row and see what he saw. I have no issues about breastfeeding in public but for me I like the modesty that a nursing cover or blanket gives not only me but those around me. Brock is very curious when he sees me nursing Nicholas which is fine, because i can sit him down and try to explain what is happening i tell him this is how Nicholas drinks his milk. so Brock will run to the fridge and get his sippy cup to come share with Nicholas which then leads to me telling him that Nicholas doesn't know how to drink from that kind of cup. and then Brock say Why? and so on and so forth. question after question which is fine because he's my child and i can take that time to answer his questions an soon fine an answer that pleases him, at least until the next feeding. But I have also been in the position where another child has come up and asked what i was doing and as much as i don't mind answering her questions it's a little annoying when I'm trying to bond and nourish my own child. on the same note When I was a nanny I had to answer many questions when we were around nursing moms. what is that woman doing? why is the baby hiding under the blanket? etc.
on your other note. I've never had to experience the refusal to nurse. Brock was great, and Nicholas seems to be following suit. but then again it is still early. but it loos like you've gotten plenty advise on that.

Valerie said...

I remember your dad being aghast at me when I tandem nursed two year old, Justin and newborn, David in the movie theater once!

Morgan said...

You have a lot of knowledgeable friends! I have nothing left to say because all my thoughts have been suggested as far as the refusal to nurse. But I loved the video and I remember that when I went to Peru, the only culture shock I experienced was seeing women breastfeeding in Sacrament meeting. It was odd to see a woman bare her entire breast (un-endowed women in the heat of the jungle often wore tank tops to church--not much cloth to work with as a covering) in the chapel. But since my mom breastfed us and I was the oldest of 4, I don't recall it ever being awkward. As a breastfeeding mom, the only time I use a cover is in church. And I'm totally willing to nurse my babies wherever, whenever. Hiking, at the store, the park, etc. (I kinda think it's fun to get funny looks. Is that rude of me? Eh, well.) But I can usually be pretty modest and people hardly ever know.

As far as milk supply being in sync with baby's needs, I noticed that when my babies were going through a growth spurt, I would start to produce more milk for a while and get engorged again and spray the baby in the face and leak on my clothes and all that fun stuff. Then, as my body got used to the new amount of milk to supply, things would even back out. You might try pumping just a little to lighten the flow before trying to get Lo latched on. Good luck!

TheTamFam said...

I should clarify that I DO use a cover in church, mostly to prevent that occurence you mentioned, Jocelyn. And when I don't use a cover, I still don't show much because I use nursing tops. So I think it maintains modesty. I'm not exactly like those breast baring women of the amazon!

TheTamFam said...

But if I were in the Amazon, I would probably be more open, just because I'd feel more relaxed that I wouldn't be offending the people around me.

Melody said...

I think it makes OTHER people uncomfortable. I know it makes my husband uncomfortable when another woman is blatantly breastfeeding with no cover. So I consider the feelings of others. But the other day my husband opened the door and didn't realize (since it's so normal here in the house) that I was breastfeeding and I'm pretty sure the stranger got "flashed." I wasn't really embarrassed about it-at least not as much as if I were changing or something!