Word of the Day: Eco-Breastfeeding

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival! This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about the environment and breastfeeding. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st!

My boobs are green!

Yup. There it is. I said it.

Breastfeeding is the way to 'go green' as a new parent! No fancy packaging, no preservatives, 100% organic, completely biodegradable and also a very sustainable and renewable environmental choice! Kermit had it all wrong. It is SO easy being green! (And by easy, I mean really, really hard sometimes!!)

In all seriousness, today's post is about the environment and whether or not it is or was something that I considered when deciding to breastfeed. To be completely honest, no, it was not a major factor in my decision-making. I had a 3.5 pound premature baby, he needed all the advantages he could get and my colostrum and then breastmilk were the magic potions that made him better, bigger and stronger each and every day until we could bring him home from the hospital. And then every day after that for three full years!

Was it nice that I did not have the hassle of buying a whole cupboard full of bottle feeding paraphernalia? Yes. Did I miss out on having to choose the best brand with the right combination of synthetic nutrients from the HUGE section of highly packaged, incessantly marketed and ever-present baby formula at the grocery store? Hell, NO. Did I save some money on water because I did not have to boil it, use it for washing bottles and nipples three times a day and whatever else is needed to ensure that my baby's food was made 'just right"? Perhaps.

There are so many reasons that mothers choose to breastfeed their children, just like there are also many reasons why some women choose to use artificial milks to feed their children. I think that the environmental impact of breastfeeding is kind of like the gravy on top of a really nice piece of turkey breast (hee hee!) and mashed potatoes. It's a bonus! Yes, it makes everything taste a little bit better, but is not the main reason for eating the meal.

That being said, breastfeeding is actually quite environmentally friendly (see all the reasons above) and next time someone asks you about it or questions your decision to breastfeed, you can just say that you are not only doing your part for your child, but for all the future generations of children on our dear Mother Earth!!

I love being green!


When green is all there is to be It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why Wonder, I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful And I think it's what I want to be

~Kermit the Frog

Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

a breastfeeding journey...the road less travelled.

I am so so excited to have my very first guest post here on Natural Urban Mama!!   Please give a nice warm welcome to my dear friend and fellow babywearing mama, Shannon Mozak from Metamorphosis. Shannon is a babywearing, wrap-hoarding, crafty mama to three beautiful girls. She is also passionate about breastfeeding eduction and spreading the word about milk sharing.

This is her story..... 

When I was pregnant with my third baby I was sure that breastfeeding would be a success this time. I was absolutely convinced that the reason I had struggled so much with my first two was because of bad information and not enough support.  Before baby number three arrived I made sure that I had all the right information and a terrific support network of breastfeeding mothers and friends to help me get it right.

Then, Alana was born in a wonderful gentle homebirth. I was giving her the absolute best start she could get as far as our breastfeeding relationship went.  I laid back after her birth and snuggled her and waited for her to find her own way to the breast and self attach. And there she stayed for nearly every waking and non-waking moment of her life for the next six weeks.

I think I knew it was not going well long before I admitted it to myself.  She was peeing frequently, but very, very small amounts and not having nearly enough dirty diapers. The ones she did have were suspect. I talked to my friends, sought the advice of my doula, talked to several lactation consultant friends and even after all of this, my mama instincts were still telling me something was not right. So I went and had her weighed.

After six long weeks of feeding Alana on-demand (almost non-stop), not only has she not gained weight, but she was nearly a full pound lighter than her birth weight.  Concerned that something other than my milk supply must be the issue I took her to the doctor for the first time. The doctor was more than alarmed and sent us to the Stollery Children's Hospital immediately. Still, I was convinced that breastfeeding was not the problem.  After all, I had done everything right.....how could it go wrong???

In order to rule out milk supply I had to make Alana wait two hours before feeding her.  She had NEVER been off the breast for such a long period before but we waited the agonizing two hours and then I fed her for as long as she would nurse on both sides and then she was weighed.  She took in a whopping 20 millilitres (just over one tablespoon) of breast milk.  Total.

From here, it did not take me long to put two and two together.  My other two babies had the same difficulty with breastfeeding.  No matter that I had done everything right, beginning right from the moment of her birth, my body was not able to make her enough milk.

I immediately reached out to friends that I knew.....not for breastfeeding support or advice, but for their milk.  I asked everyone I knew if they had a freezer stash they would be able to donate to us. I posted on my Facebook page that "It would take a village to feed my child."

Thankfully, I am a part of an incredible community of mothers and I got a wonderful immediate response to my request for milk.  After only one night in the hospital on formula I was able to take Alana home and feed her donated milk. For one whole week I fed her on the generosity of my friends and their friends.

I was at a La Leche League meeting near the end of that first week talking to the leaders and other mothers there about how I felt so blessed that so many mom's were willing to donate their milk, but that it was soon going to run out.  What would I do then?

It was suggested that I post a need for donated milk on the Human Milk 4 Human Babies - Alberta Facebook page. And as soon as I got home from that meeting I did just that.

Again, I was extremely blessed. I made a connection with a mom not too far away from me who had a premature baby whose due date was exactly Alana's birth date. She also happened to have a huge oversupply issue.  Ever since then I have been working with this one mom who donates the bulk of Alana's perfectly age appropriate breast milk.  Every week we meet up and I bring home several grocery bags full of frozen milk.

Still, sometimes this just isn't enough.  So in order to keep the frozen milk lasting as long as possible, I have asked any nursing mother who is comfortable with the idea to wet-nurse my baby.  I am always amazed at the generosity and so very grateful when yet another mother offers to nurse my baby.  I can't help but think of all the wonderful antibodies she is being exposed to and that so many moms have enough love in them to share this very special gift with my sweet baby girl.

I love that some moms in my immediate group of friends have started affectionately referring to Alana as "the community baby". I wish that every mother who truly wanted to breastfeed her baby but could not for whatever reason, could find the same support and sense of community that I have found.

Sometimes, I still feel sadness when I see posts on Facebook from breastfeeding advocates that insinuate that my baby is not getting the absolute very best because I can't breastfeed her.  Then I think about watching her drift off to sleep comfy and satisfied at another mother's breast and I smile.  My baby is getting the best.  She is getting more love than I can give her alone.

By seeking out donated breastmilk, both frozen and fresh, I am taking the road less travelled as far as breastmilk feeding goes but I know that I am giving my baby the very best that I can give her.

It is my hope that by sharing Alana's story I can get more people thinking about and talking about milk sharing. Direct, mom to mom sharing.  Every baby deserves breastmilk, even if its own mother can't provide it.

I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. 

~Robert Frost