All Breasts Are Not Created Equal: A Guest Post

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When I was 25, after years of trying to conceive, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Other than fertility issues, I never really thought about how that diagnosis would affect me in other ways. After only two rounds of Clomid, I finally got pregnant for the first time! A co-worker had also just found out that she was pregnant with her first, and through our pregnancies, we developed a deep bond that quickly developed into an amazing friendship. When she first asked if I was going to breastfeed, I immediately said no way! I had never in my life known anyone who breastfed, and neither did my husband. I was completely ignorant on the subject. She continued talking to me about it and finally convinced me that I should at least try. After a male co-worker of my husband, whose wife was also pregnant, had a conversation with him about how awesome breastfeeding was, he came home to tell me that I should breastfeed too. So, I made up my mind that I would try. When my breasts never grew or hurt throughout my pregnancy, I never gave it a second thought other than being a bit upset that I hadn’t gotten that perk of pregnancy–big boobs! My daughter was born at 38 weeks via cesarean section after nearly 24 hours of labor and my body doing nothing. I felt like a failure for the second time. Not only could I not get pregnant on my own, now I couldn’t give birth on my own either. This drove me to be more determined than ever to breastfeed my beautiful Cecilia, even though I had virtually no support from my family. Well, she latched immediately and nursed for what seemed like hours. Things seemed to be going well, but in reality, they weren’t. She wasn’t pooping much, became severely jaundiced, and my nipples had become a cracked, bloody mess. However, I pressed on through the pain. After 5 days in the hospital (3 of which were spent with her under the bili lights for the majority of the time), we went home. I continued breastfeeding. A couple days later, we took her in for her 1-week checkup, and she had lost a full pound. I was devastated. At the suggestion of my doctor, I continued nursing, pumping immediately after (even though I got NOTHING out), and supplemented with formula. With no real support and very little education about breastfeeding, our nursing relationship ended at 8 weeks. I had no explanation. No answers. I was crushed.

Fast-forward two and a half years to my third pregnancy (2nd live birth). I was determined to make breastfeeding work this time. Again, the fact that my breasts did not grow didn’t really cause me much concern. William was born in April of 2012, latched immediately, and nursed beautifully. I saw a lactation nurse several times while in the hospital. Other than mentioning that many women with PCOS struggle with breastfeeding, she didn’t have anything negative to say. His latch was perfect, and he seemed to be pooping and wetting fine, even though he continued to lose weight. Again, at the first checkup, my baby had lost nearly a pound. By the next week, he had continued to lose. We started supplementing, but I was determined to make it longer this time with breastfeeding. A friend added me to a local breastfeeding group. That was both the best and worst thing that could’ve happened to me. I was made to feel like a terrible mother for feeding my child formula, aka poison. I wasn’t trying hard enough, needed to pump more, nurse more, drink more water, take this pill or that one. I was told that “my body was made for this” and that I just needed to work harder. I was devastated and spiraled quickly into severe postpartum depression.

Finally, a mom in the group asked me some questions about my breasts. (The good thing that came out of my joining the breastfeeding group!) I had always hated them! They were super tiny (even though I have always been plus-sized), and they are very oddly-shaped, as well as widely spaced. They are triangular-shaped, point downward, and my nipples turn inward. They are also very uneven. Although I didn’t know it (and had never even heard of it), I had all the classic signs of IGT (Insufficient Glandular Tissue), also often referred to as breast hypoplasia. My breasts are deformed. Yes, it is a medical deformity! I joined an IGT support group on Facebook. Finally, I was connected with women just like me! Their stories were my story! Their breasts looked just like mine! They got it. It was like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. The black cloud of depression was lifted! I didn’t cry anymore. It wasn’t my fault! I really was doing all that I could! Through this group, I learned that giving my baby formula was not wrong! It did not make me a bad mother. In fact, it made me an amazing mother for realizing there was a problem and doing what was necessary for my child to thrive!

Although IGT is considered rare, it is so much more common than many believe it to be. There hasn’t been a real study done in over a decade. In that decade plus, there have been many advancements in the medical world, specifically in fertility treatments. Many women who suffer from fertility issues, such as PCOS, have been given the chance to bear children with all of these new advancements. PCOS and IGT often go hand-in-hand. Because we women are now bearing children (where it was impossible before), we are also wanting to and trying to breastfeed our babies, only to realize that we struggle in this area as well. IGT is real, and it is more common than we think. Doctors are becoming more aware of it, and women are being diagnosed more often and earlier on.

One of the best things I learned along the way is that breastfeeding doesn’t have to be all or nothing. With the help of formula as a supplement, I was able to breastfeed my son until he weaned at 8 months. It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was downright hard! I pumped an ungodly amount, even though the fruits of my labor were minuscule. I took a plethora of herbal supplements that are known to help increase milk supply (also called galactogogues), including fenugreek, blessed thistle, green superfood capsules, Dairy Queen*, and Shatavari. I consumed unrealistic amounts of green smoothies, lactation cookies, and oatmeal. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it, and I wouldn’t change any of it!

I’ve learned so much along the way, but the most important lesson I learned was not to judge. We are all mothers just trying to do the best for our children. We don’t know each others’ personal situations. Choose your words wisely. One comment can be the breaking point for a mother, especially a struggling mother who is reaching out for help. Don’t assume anything. And, most of all, never make a mom feel guilty about her choices!

It has become my mission to educate the breastfeeding community about IGT. Even if I can connect with one struggling mom and let her know that it’s not her fault, then I feel like my job is done!

~Michelle
Mother to Cecilia 4.5 and William 1

Other great links and resources:

http://kellymom.com/bf/got-milk/supply-worries/insufficient-glandular-tissue/

http://www.facebook.com/groups/IGTmamas/

*http://www.euphoricbirth.com/product/dairy-queen-2/

http://diaryofalactationfailure.blogspot.com/

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The American Dream: Angel Britches

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Locally to me, here in Baton Rouge, there is a great little store named Angel Britches. This store is the only store of its kind in this area and serves the community well by being here. This store is a natural parenting store! Yes, you heard correctly… Some of you may be wondering “what does she mean by that?”. They carry a wide variety of products that many attachment or natural parenting people would use for their little ones.

Here’s a list of some product types available in the store:

Baby Carriers
Organic Crib Bedding & Blankets
Cloth Diapering Supplies
Herbal Teas
Pregnancy Items
Breastfeeding Supplies
Sustainable Menstrual Products
Natural and Non Toxic Laundry
Natural and Non Toxic Bath and Body
And many other Green products!

I met the owner Stephanie Methvin a few years back well before Jack was born. I was hosting a natural birth awareness night at my home and she happened to attend. (Ah the magic of Facebook) She mentioned to the group that she owned a cloth diapering store across town and I didn’t really think much about it at the time.

A few short months later I became pregnant with Jack and decided I would go check out her store. I walked into a tiny little storefront on the side of a strip center. I was immediately surrounded by things that I had never even heard about let alone considered using.

She was friendly and patient with my ignorant self, explaining the pros and cons of cloth diapering and the basic functions of each style. I didn’t buy anything that day, but the store left a wonderful impression on me and I knew I would return in the future.

I began shopping and stocking up on things I would need and want for Jack and developed a quite profound friendship with Stephanie. I later in my pregnancy began filling in for her at the store sporadically and now continue to work at Angel Britches 2 days a week.

Angel Britches has grown tremendously in the past year moving from the tiny storefront I mentioned above, to a larger storefront in the same shopping center and now to the largest mall in Louisiana. Now they are located in the Mall of Louisiana on bluebonnet and interstate 10.

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I sat down with Stephanie last week and conducted a mini- interview about her store Angel Britches.
AB interview

1. What made you want to start a cloth diapering store?

We were cloth diapering my son and he was 6 months old at the time. We had to shop online for all of our diapers and it was so disappointing when we would get the stuff in the mail. We went to Zuka Baby in New Orleans and thought it was cool. We had wanted to open a baby store before but did not really want to be just another clothing boutique. When I realized cloth diapering was growing in popularity and since it was so hard to find, we decided to do that. Wanted a specialty item, something to set us apart from “Walmart”.

2. How did you come up with the name?

First I thought it would be blessings or something else like bottom blessings… I was trying to think of another name for bottoms. My dad was a CB’er and my CB handle was possum britches. So the original name was that, Possum Britches. I started to think well possums aren’t really that cute. When trying to design the logo, i decided to put a baby possum wearing a diaper, then when I added the halo, it clicked. I called Jairus (her husband) on the phone and we decided to name it Angel Britches instead and change it to a baby instead of a possum. It was so funny because while I was on the phone with him, I said “you’re not going to believe this but I just saw a dead possum on the side of the road”. Some of our vendors still think we are possum britches to this day.

3. What would you want every AB customer to know about Stephanie Methvin?

I don’t want anyone to ever feel guilty about choices because of me. But that’s not really about me…

I guess that no one knows how to do anything perfectly. Cloth diapering, parenting breast feeding, whatever it is, you have to figure it out…its an art.

I love my kids but I am not the or even a parenting authority. Do whatever works and feels right to you, love your kids. I am not a snot and I don’t want people to think that.

Cloth diapering is not moral or immoral – don’t do it or do it- it’s okay either way.

4. Who has had the greatest impact on you as a small business owner?

My husband, without him we would not even have a store or be in the mall. He’s a doer. I’m more of a thinker. It’s him 100%. He still comes and works here after a 12 hour day. He’s personally delivered everything from diapers to nipple cream.

5. Advice to other budding small business owners?

Try to find something different – a void that needs to be filled. Don’t give up when it starts stinking. Work your butt off. Have a separate source of income if you can & look at it as an investment.

6. What’s your favorite thing you sell?

The Medela pump in style. I used it 38 months and it was a champ. Plus 3-4 of my friends got to borrow it and use it as we’ll during that time. I feel that it was because of my pump I was able to breastfeed as long as I wanted to.
100% exclusively breastfeed without using formula and afforded me some freedom. My family could help feed my baby and I could still work at LSU too.

7. How has AB life changed since moving to the mall?

Definitely faster paced. to me the biggest change has been that since we have more employees and more customers, I’m not personally selling to every single customer. Theres a lot more exposure to the public. People know about us and have seen us in the mall. I love riding the escalator or walking in the mall and hear people talk about Angel Britches, it’s very interesting. They have no idea I am the owner so I can hear the in filtered opinions.

8. Where do you see AB 5 years from now?

Multiple locations maybe a few more malls, maybe franchising to others who want to personally own an Angel Britches.

9. What is the greatest misconception about cloth diapering?

That people don’t have enought time to do it. I was married, worked 7 days a week, homeschooled and took care of 3 kids. There were other issues a
and problems but cloth diapering wasn’t one of them.
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I am giving away a $10 gift certificate to Angel Britches! You must do the following to win:

Follow This Blog
Comment On This Post

Drawing will be held Monday June 3rd 6:00 PM CST. Winner will have 24 hours to claim prize.

Check out other giveaways from Jacks Crunchy Mama by clicking HERE

To visit Angel Britches Website click here.

A picture of Stephanie’s beautiful family is pictured below.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

MSG: Harmless Food Additive

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MSG:

A laboratory created food additive used to enhance the flavor of food. Mono sodium glutamate is the full name.

MSG is passed off as a “natural” and harmless food additive that can be used instead of salt to enhance the flavor of food. MSG or monosodium glutamate is far from natural, it’s lab created and can cause an array of health problems.

Adverse reactions include but not limited to:

• Headache
• Flushing
• Sweating
• Nausea
• Weakness/numbness
• Heart Palpitations
• Chest Pain

source

I personally am subject to migraine headaches upon consuming this substance in foods. I try to avoid MSG but it is tricky sometimes because manufacturers are not labeling MSG only as Monosodium glutamate anymore. Some of the other names for MSG in our food are:

Autolyzed Yeast
Calcium Caseinate
Gelatin
Glutamate
Glutamic Acid
Hydrolyzed Protein
Monopotassium Glutamate Monosodium Glutamate
Sodium Caseinate
Textured Protein
Yeast Extract
Yeast Food
Yeast Nutrient

source

Here’s some additional sites to read up on MSG and the health effects.

Mercola

Food Matters

Pure Proactive

No One Told Me…

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No One Told Me…

Everyone that I encountered in the natural birth community told me about the wonderful experience child birth could be. You know… about the power within me, the rush of love hormones immediately after and the great sense of accomplishment that would come with delivering my own baby.

While all of those wonderful things turned out to be true, there were a few other “experiences” that went unmentioned.

No one told me:

1. That after the love hormones subsided, I would feel like a freight train hit me.

– I mean come on, that would’ve been use information! I could have prepared differently to aid the recovery process.

2. The painful swelling of my nether regions after birth.

– No one and I mean no one talks about this. And why would they? It’s horrifying especially if You end up with stitches like I did (19). But again, had I realized this, I could be invested in some site bath herbs or numbing spray ahead of time.

3. That my body would transform into something resembling a tube sock filled with lumpy sausage gravy.

-This one was unavoidable so even if I had known, I could not have prevented this. But no one told me nonetheless…

4. My libido would become non existent and the thought (let alone the act) of “relations” would cause such pain.

-This is a biggie. I only have 2 thoughts on the matter. Ouch & my poor patient husband, God Bless him.

5. That Breastfeeding may not be easy. Or that I would continue to have contractions every time I fed the baby.

-Set proper expectations people! I have actually written a whole post about my traumatizing Breastfeeding experience. You can read it by clicking here.

I know we should focus on the positives of every situation instead of the negatives. BUT! I feel that setting proper expectations are vital to an overall fulfilling experience and necessary for adequate preparation.

If you are a mother reading this- what did you find surprising after birth that NO ONE TOLD YOU?

Me at 37 weeks pregnant with Jackson

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