The most beautiful time as a woman 

I’m convinced the most feminine time for a woman is when she feels the least attractive. Allow me to explain.

Many woman I know feel like I do when they are pregnant. Heavy. Swollen. Changing. Dealing with uncomfortable comments from some other people – most people, especially women, are full of grace for this time, because they’ve gone through it – but well-intentioned people can say strange things.

Exhibit A.

*I tell someone I’m expecting our third prize in January and pat my belly* 

A wonderfully kind man says “congratulations, and thank you for saving us the embarrassment of asking or wondering if you’re just fat.”

I laugh and say “yes, that’s how I feel.” 

My husband shakes his head for the man, embarrassed on behalf of the male gender species. He can’t help it.

I’m not angry, not one bit. I understand some people just don’t know what to say. And it’s ironic albeit a little more painful to hear, because it’s exactly how I’m feeling: fat!

I was talking with another gal this weekend who told me her pregnancies were a series of planning driving trips around her tendency to throw up. How difficult!! I get it! There is no way to feel good if that’s how your body responds!

And another who told me about her 19 hour labor which ended in emergency c-section and the aftermath of recovery.

Another who recalled her inability to shed the last 20 pounds gained after children.

And my own experience of needing to heal after delivering babies. I remember having my first child, and a male friend who came to visit right after couldn’t hide his surprise when he saw my belly was still looking as if I were six months pregnant. This is not, afterall, how the magazines and moves show us life happens! In the world of mommy makeovers and c-section tummy tucks, women should look more attractive after childbirth, right?

When the reality is, we are red-eyed from sleepless nights, weepy and puffy from crying alongside our new infants and the wave of unpredictable hormones, smelly from spit-up and blow-out diapers, and sore in all the areas one might otherwise take for granted that make the most basic of human functions a challenge. 

But this is when a woman really truly shines. Her body was broken in the moments and months she was giving life. Eve’s sin made pregnancy and childbirth painful. It is a sacrifice in so many ways. And in the aftermath of the birth, her broken body pushes on to nurture that tiny human, robbing Mom of nutrients her own body otherwise would appreciate using to restore all that child-growing stole. 

She nurses the baby. She changes diapers. She sacrifices sleep to provide comfort and more nutrition. And it’s her privilege to do it. 

And then child-rearing is an experience of learning to let go. As the physical grip loosens, a mother’s spiritual grip and dependence on God must tighten. So she focuses more and more on the transforming power of God, out of her own benefit, but much to benefit her own children. She is desperately focused on trying to exemplify and point those tiny souls towards Christ, so they know on whom they can rely. Because moms know we don’t live forever. Our days are numbered, and one days these souls who broke our bodies will have to fend for themselves.

A woman is most beautiful and feminine in her brokenness.

Free (or cheap) Breastfeeding Classes? Really?

I have recently seen advertisements for VERY reduced rate (and even free) breastfeeding classes for expectant parents online, in large department stores and even in hospitals. While these classes may seem so tempting for many reasons, I would like to point out a few flaws in attending these classes.

But isn’t breastfeeding a natural and normal process? It should be easy, right? I shouldn’t even have to take a class for that. Well, isn’t childbirth a natural and normal process as well?

What could possibly be wrong with a free (or cheap) breastfeeding class?

  • Breastfeeding is as important as your birth. It deserves as much attention and respect as childbirth. Many moms-to-be spend countless hours preparing for their birth; attending 6 week class series, reading an average of 2 birth books, interviewing providers, taking fitness classes, researching birthing options, making a solid birth plan, and even composing the perfect playlist for their big day. Just as the placenta nourishes the baby in the womb, the breasts nourish the baby outside the womb. Shouldn’t the same amount of preparation one puts into birth be put into breastfeeding?
  • There is no such thing as a free lunch. Really, there isn’t. Believe me, I’ve been searching for quite some time! Who is producing these ‘free’ online classes? What messages are they trying to convey? Where are they putting in the advertisements and what are their interests? Someone has to benefit from these ‘free’ classes or it is just not profitable. If you think you are the only person benefitting, think again. It’s business.
  • You get what you pay for. A $10 breastfeeding class sounds tempting, but in order for that class to be profitable, there needs to be about 20 couples in that class and the class must last no longer than 2 hours. High volume is the key here. Can 20 couples really learn the basics of breastfeeding in 2 hours? One would expect a lecture, a video or two (so the instructor can catch their breath), plenty of coupons and/or advertisements in a goody bag, and no time for questions. Lecture and video? Feels like I’m back in college. How many dads/partners would fall asleep during THIS class?

Let’s discuss the benefits of an independent, competitively priced class.

  • A smaller class size and longer instruction time allows for optimal learning. This gives couples (especially pregnant ones) plenty of time to process the information as well as ask questions and receive a non-hurried, detailed answer. More one-on-one attention means that couples feel a part of the learning process. They come to find solutions on their own because they are given the time. Plus, dads/partners are less likely to doze off during class.
  • Multiple teaching methods are used in the class. The instructor will likely combine lecture, videos, games, hands on practice, discussion, quizzes, and maybe even stand up comedy to ensure you truly absorb the content being presented.
  • Competitive pricing means that the instructor has gone to great lengths to make sure you get your money’s worth. Instead of reading from a script, the instructor creates unique handouts,presentation slides, reviews notes, creates fun games (often rewarded with candy), makes sure all content reflects the latest research, and strives for your satisfaction in the class.
  • The independent instructor does not have any financial or undisclosed interest in products that are discussed in the class. All of the information given is the honest opinion of the honest instructor.  Working for a hospital, large baby store, or even a pharmaceutical company means the instructor has been told what to say (and what to NOT say).

I can understand the temptation to take a deeply discounted or free class. I really do. Financial times are tough on us all. So what do you do if you really cannot afford another expense?

My honest suggestion is to read a breastfeeding book if you cannot afford a quality class. With a book, you can process the information at your own speed, your partner can read along with you, and you can reference the material as many times as you need to. I highly recommend Breastfeeding Made Simple: 7 Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers by Kathleen Kendal-Tackett PhD, IBCLC and Nancy Mohrbacher IBCLC, FILCA. This book presents the material in an easy, scientific way that truly makes breastfeeding simple. It is also the reason I am a lactation consultant today.

By Meghan Garcia-Salas, CLC, CBS (Active Mama Milky Maven)

Meghan Garcia-Salas, CLC, CBS is a Certified Lactation Counselor and Certified Breastfeeding Specialist who owns and operates Village Lactation Services. She instructs childbirth professionals on breastfeeding issues as well as facilitates local breastfeeding support groups. She has spent over 1200 hours directly counseling Atlanta’s breastfeeding families and is an active member in ILCA, USLCA, SELCA, GBN, and AABP. She recently took the Board Certification Lactation Consultant Exam in July and is eagerly awaiting exam results.

Come meet her at: http://www.meetup.com/Active-Mamas/events/140615992/