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Trevor & the La Leche League Battle

This is getting out of hand. I cannot believe the hoopla Trevor has created regarding his desire to be a LLL leader in Canada. For those who don’t even know who or what I’m talking about, I’ll start at the beginning, but I’m going to give the short version.

My own prejudice first. I was a LLL leader for ten years. I also happen to be lesbian married to a transman. I had three children I breastfed for years and my partner, then presenting as a woman, had a baby that he also breastfed for 2.5 years. This topic isn’t foreign to us.

Trevor came out as a man and had his breasts removed (Top Surgery… Bilateral Mastectomy). Then a few years later, with his genitals and female insides intact, decided to birth a baby. Once the son was born, he wanted to breastfeed. Trevor says he has milk, but it’s hard to say how much since he uses an enormous amount of donor milk (16 different donors by the time his son was 7 months old, so he says in his blog Milk Junkies) and from what I know of Top Surgery, most, if not all (female) breast tissue is removed and the nipple is (usually) completely removed and replaced (women’s nipples are very different than men’s, even if women are AA sized), making the milk ducts all but inaccessible. If he has any milk at all, it would almost be a miracle of science and possibly a malpractice of his plastic surgeon. To feed his son, he uses a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) to give the donated breast milk. Trevor started going to LLL meetings and eventually, a LLL leader friend thought it’d be good for him to lead support meetings which led to his wanting to be a LLL leader and his applying. Because he is a man, he was turned down. LLL is a mother to mother organization and Trevor identifies as a man.

Question: If Trevor was born a man and was “breastfeeding”, would he be as welcome at meetings as Trevor? Or is Trevor really being seen as a woman and that is why he is so accepted? I believe it’s the latter.

Trevor’s invading women-only space does an enormous disservice to both transmen and LLL alike. Why is it so important to have every. single. place. be both male and female? Why can’t there be male-only and female-only spaces? Is being politically correct really that important? Still?  

You can read LLL’s requirements for becoming a leader here. It’s clear the roles of mother and father are delineated. Some might find this sexist and that it’s just not keeping up with the times of the science of possibilities, but can’t there be a place where mothers are permitted to just be mothers? Is it gender bias to request that women have a space where men aren’t looking at intimate areas of women’s bodies? While Trevor says he has had no problems at his group, I know there are plenty of women who would never attend meetings if he was a leader (or any other man for that matter). As it is, when guys hear that Zack and I got together at a LLL meeting they are not happy, thinking that they never had to worry about the meetings being pick up spots (not kidding; we’ve been told this on a number of occasions). Men can become Lactation Consultants or Peer Counselors and hired on a one-on-one basis, but can’t LLL just be a place for mothers to come in a group setting?

But, there are other issues that come into play that disqualify Trevor from being a LLL leader. LLL is extremely clear about not mixing causes and it doesn’t take two seconds on Trevor’s blog to see that two of his causes are milk sharing and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex (LGBTQI) issues. LLL has very strict limits on milk sharing and wrote Trevor about it, which he published here. They say:

A Leader shall never initiate the suggestion of an informal milk-donation arrangement or act as an intermediary in such a situation. If a mother wishes to discuss these options – which may include donating expressed milk, wet-nursing or cross-nursing – the Leader’s role is to provide information about the benefits and risks, as mentioned above, including the limitations of home sterilization of expressed breast milk.

Regarding being a specialty leader such as an LGBTQI leader, they say:

I would also like to address your interest in leading an LGBT LLL meeting. I think that it is important for you to know that we do not accredit specialty Leaders. So for example Leaders often say that they need a working mother as a Leader for their Group because she can relate to the mothers in the population the Group serves - I would disagree - what qualifies a Leader to relate to those mothers is her experience of mothering, not her experience of separation. Similarly in this case it is the experience of mothering through breastfeeding which qualifies a Leader to help others. Any Leader can help anyone who is interested in breastfeeding. LLL has accredited a number of lesbian mothers as Leaders. They lead Groups for all mothers.

While LLL initially turned Trevor down (in the letter above, they have since written a statement saying they will look at the issue that has never been presented to them before. This is where I get testy.

A letter of “support” was written that could be cut & pasted or signed and sent to LLL and that letter began:

As the world's most important breastfeeding support organization, it is vital that you include all kinds of breastfeeding families. Regardless of any other issues, LLL should support breastfeeding relationships. I was very disappointed to hear that a transgender dad in Canada was told not to apply for leadership because of his gender identity.

Excuse me? LLL supports ALL families. LLL does not exclude any families from their support, knowledge or information. LLL also did NOT tell Trevor not to apply for leadership. It explained to Trevor why he was not a good fit for leadership, the same way they tell women every single day why they are also not a good fit, either. Some who apply are; most who apply are not. And this is just how the letter began! In this angry tone. What the heck?! This makes it sound like LLL is a vile organization that has unreasonable concerns about trans issues, namely transphobia when, by every bit of correspondence that Trevor shared (without LLL’s permission, I might add), you can see that LLL is extremely respectful and kind. Why Trevor and his spouse decided to write the letter in this tone is beyond me, but it has pissed me off more than any other aspects of the whole topic.

I’ve said in various threads around the Net that if Trevor wants to lead the specialty breastfeeding groups, he will be amazing at it! No, he doesn’t just need to limit himself to LGBTQI groups or milk sharing or SNS groups, but those can definitely be his focus and forte just as each of us midwives also tend to have specialties, too.

Trevor is definitely traversing new ground and it’s awesome that he is. It needs to be tread, but I don’t believe it needs to be tromped on through LLL’s land. I would love to see him start his own organization and I would be one of the greatest supporters. I am all for trans procreation and breast supplementation… fabulous! Zack and I are both on the same page with this issue.

Leave LLL alone, Trevor and others; find another avenue for your energies… something positive and joyful. We have enough fighting in our lives. I don’t believe we always have to shove ourselves into middle of the road organizations, especially ones that are single sex only spaces.  Let’s create something for us… just for us… and show the world how great we are and how strong we can be. There’s more than enough to go around.



Another good news story!

Johanna Holmes says:

"Philip, Mr. 10 lb 8 oz Leap Day baby, went to the doctor and is now coming in at 20 lbs 13 oz and is 28 1/2 inches tall (8 inches in 4 months?!?) at all of 4 months old.  He's wearing size 24 month outfits.  No oversupply issues, he's not even nursing between 10pm and 6am.  Here's a comparison shot with his almost 4 year old brother."

Love it!



Meghann Nursing

L: Meghann, 2.5 years old, "nursing" Fern.
R: Meghann, 27 years old, nursing 9-day old Gabriella. 

Constipation with Breastfed Poop?

I recently had a mama ask me about her baby’s breastfed poop, saying she (the baby) hadn’t gone in two days and was that okay. I always tell moms if they are really worried, to feel free to call their pediatrician, but then I follow-up with the information I would give if she were my own client… or my daughter. 

When a baby is 100% breastfed, no formula supplements, it is nigh on impossible for the baby to get constipated. I’ve heard Peds and breastfeeding experts say it is impossible, but I know as soon as I utter those words, someone will come and tell me their baby was. Advisors/Providers… always leave an out. 

Breastfeeding-Problems.com explains the difference between a baby making a straining face and a baby that has true clinical constipation. 

-         “Baby cries when straining to poo 

-         Pain in the belly area 

-         Stools seem like little pellets” 

Dr. Jack Newman says

“Some breastfed babies, after the first three to four weeks of life, may suddenly change their stool pattern from many each day, to one every three days or even less. Some babies have gone as long as 20 days or more without a bowel movement. As long as the baby is otherwise well, and the stool is the usual pasty or soft, yellow movement, this is not constipation and is of no concern. No treatment is necessary or desirable, because no treatment is necessary or desirable for something that is normal.” 

So, I threw this out to my Navelgazing Midwife Facebook readers to see what their experiences were. I asked, “Breastfeeding Mamas: Does your baby ever go days without pooping? Do tell!” Here’s what the moms shared:

R: Definitely, but not often.

J: They did when they were little. E. would sometimes go 5 days and then explode. He had a lot of food issues though, so I'm not sure if that contributed to it.
P: Mine sometimes did. I never worried about it though. Probably no more than 2 days tops. My memory is fuzzy already though.
S: I had one of my kids that routinely pooped once every 3 weeks. No big deal.
(Obviously changed once solids were introduced around 9 months of age.)
T: Oh yes. He pooped every 4 days, down to the hour!
M: My two youngest pooped once a week until solids were introduced (about 8-9 months), starting around day 10 with both. Ped said as long as the poop was soft, it was within the range of normal. Some babes just digest breast milk completely with very little waste.
K: Even at nearly a year L. will go about every 5-7 days. He's not constipated, that's just how he has worked since the beginning. The more solids for him, the more frequent the poop.

T. was the exact opposite though.
P: Not often, but once in a while, yes.

D: I’ve had a 7 poops a day-er and a once a week-er. They just have different digestive systems. Once we started solids, her poops regulated out to about 1 a day, but sometimes she still goes 2-3 days between. My older one usually still has 2 poops a day. Oh yeah, the once a week-er had poo-splosions. Once it started, we couldn't leave the house all day. Even though we cloth diaper, the poo went everywhere. Down legs, out the front top, it was crazy. I don't know where she stored it all.
G: Mine was a daily pooper. Sometimes more than once a day.
D: Never. They poop every time they eat when under 3 months or around there. Seriously.
U: My first was on a 5 day cycle.
J: Yep. She goes every 2 or 3 days now and multiple times in that day. Early on, she went every 5 days or so, and they were huge. My older one always went several times a day and at 2.5 it's still unusual for her to go a day without going.
A: In her second week of life, my eldest went 8 days without pooping. My family doc noted our concern and told us that because she was peeing lots and otherwise seemed healthy, to just wait. It was pretty explosive when it came. She often went several days.
C: Yup and when she did it was from her hair to her socks. She did it in public once too. Drip drip drip poop all over the floor all the way out the door.
B: I wish! Mine went anywhere between 5 and 12 times a day for the first 10 months or so! Made it easy to potty train, though!
L: He is every other or every two days and then will poop 2 - 3 times. I call those "poop days".
H: Mine would go from pooping 4-5 times a day, to going once every 7-8 days for several months, then it'd be back to once a day or so around the time we started solids.
B: My 6-week old poops 4-6 times a day and leaves skid marks in EVERY SINGLE diaper from her wet farts!!
N: 1st bub, every nappy was poo until solids, then at least once a day. 2nd bub, every nappy poo until solids then up to 5 days between poos - having major constipation issues though, screaming, red faced pushing, frequently waking in obvious pain so we're onto the prune juice, lactulose, glycerine suppositories.
C: With three kids, they ran the gamut, from each time he nursed practically, to #2 who had a BM every 7-10 days to #3 who was intermediate of his brothers.
S: Not mine but a friend’s baby would go about 5 days between HUGE explosions of poo.
E: My daughter went 8 days once as a breastfed newborn. Completely fine!!
K: Yes! Our joke is that my son poops an average of once a day, which is to say not at all for a week and then 7 times in a row.
E: I have a friend whose first daughter would only poop once a week. She was a wonderfully chubby baby, so we all just figured she was metabolizing everything she got. Isn't it supposed to be 100 percent digestible? My kids were both regular poopers for the most part, but my daughter once went four days (and then went and went and went).
V: Both of mine went on a poop strike at about 10 days... since doula-ing I've noticed a lot of babies doing the same. It is at this point it seems like there is a switchover or consolidation of pooping. I never knew I could be so focused on pooping until I had kids. 

NgM: And I’ll add my own story! All the kids were regular poopers, but Meghann (my daughter who’s pregnant right now). Meggie went every eight days. And on that 8th day, we stayed home and changed diapers all. day. long. She was perfectly fine, healthy as could be, it was just her bowel’s rhythm. 

Thanks to all the mamas who participated and those reading now, feel free to add your baby poop stories!

Baby Aimee nursing 20 min. after being born in the car. 4/20/86. 


When Is Help Not Help?

When a woman gets pregnant, it can seem like open season for Advice Giving. I’ve seen women shocked by the amazing gall people show as they get unsolicited advice, the weirdest often coming from complete strangers. As copious as the “recommendations” are in pregnancy, they are nothing compared to what comes after the baby is born. And should we choose to parent differently than our families of origin, or even our close friends, the advice can take on the volume of a screaming bullhorn. 

Many of you reading here are Attachment Parents, parents who practice (more or less), the 7 B’s – birth bonding, breastfeeding, babywearing, bedding close to the baby, belief in the language of the baby’s cry, beware of baby trainers and balance (in all things). This style can be such a departure for those around us, they can be intimidating for new moms (and dads), teasing at first, then critical, moving to hyper-critical and even sabotaging our beliefs whenever they have the opportunity. Not having support is exhausting, especially when you find yourself defending your beliefs at every turn. 

When my kids were little, I had very unhelpful relatives, not so many critical friends because they didn’t have kids and weren’t wont to dispense advice (although, sometimes the most advice comes from the childless!). When Meghann began walking and was toed-in (“pigeon-toed”), a relative said I was going to have to get her feet broken and casts put on them or she’d never be able to run. The same person told me that, when Tristan still wasn’t peeing or pooping in the toilet at 3.5 years old, that I needed to get him electric training pants (I am not kidding) so when he peed, he would receive a shock and that would get him potty trained right away. (Blessedly, this now only seems to be an adult kink and not something you can buy for a child.) Needless to say, I didn’t do either of these gross and vile things. My heart ached, thinking about that person’s kids and what they must have endured. 

Instead of following their advice, I countered with information. When the listener didn’t give a whit about the information, I started getting smart-alecky and then, when they didn’t shut-up about it, I got mean. 

“Meghann nursing at two-years old really isn’t a big deal. Most of the world nurses their kids until they are four, so we have a long way to go to catch up.”


“Seriously, I promise, she won’t be nursing when she graduates from high school.”


“Look, you don’t have to nurse her, so what do you care anyway?” 

Me, nursing Aimee; Meghann nursing Rosie. (circa 1986) 

And so things went… with homebirth, the family bed, breastfeeding/nursing, no bedtimes, no shoes, little clothes, no weapon toys, vegetarianism and on and on. I was not only an anomaly in the family, I was a freak. 

It was scary, standing up against so much criticism. I didn’t have anyone in our world to point to that had done anything like this, anyone who had grown kids that weren’t serial killers from all the “coddling.” I remember my sister distinctly telling me Meghann was going to grow up a spoiled brat because I nursed her for so long. Hmmm. Interestingly, it wasn’t my kids that have struggled in life, but hers. (Not that breastfed kids can’t struggle; I have three that most definitely did!) 

But now, my babies are all grown, all through their phases of nudging (pushing!) boundaries and have all become the most wonderful, productive, tender adults in my world. I can now speak with confidence when I encourage moms to listen to their instincts, that what they believe in their hearts is exactly what they need to do. That when the baby cries and the family nearly physically blocks you from going to her, shove them aside and listen to that ache within that drives you to your child. I tell mamas that we have that incredible pull because, once upon a time, we didn’t live in houses with separate baby rooms with pretty wooden cribs… that nature created the human to live in the wild and if a mom didn’t keep her baby close, the kid would be eaten by the tiger waiting over there, just out of the fire’s light. That this brief period in time has brought the separation of mothers and babies and that, for most of the time on this earth, we’ve been a unit with that child until about two to three years old… if not longer. We’re hard-wired to attend to our child’s cries; not only does it serve the child, it can serve the safety of the tribe. 

In this culture we are also counseled about our parenting styles by the Pediatrician. It took me years to understand the Pediatrician was a doctor, a man/woman trained to attend to sick children, not well children. Sure, s/he also does the cursory well-baby visits and the yikkity-yacks about vaccinations and such, but when did it become the Pediatrician’s job to advise us on how to parent our children? Did this begin with Dr. Spock in the 50’s? Wherever it came from, it needs to recede once again because unless the Ped parented in your same style, it’s going to be one big fight about who’s right –and, sadly, the doctor all too often wins. (And the baby, therefore, loses, in my opinion.) 

When someone tells me their Ped told them they need to wean the baby/give the baby formula/put the nursing baby on a diet/not nurse the baby to sleep/give the baby supplemental iron/etc., my first question is: “And how many babies did s/he breastfeed successfully?” 

Not that I am the World’s Greatest Mother or World’s Greatest Role Model of a Mother, but when you get parenting advice from folks, look at their kids, their adult kids if possible, and see if you think that style worked in the children’s favor. Are the kids respectful? Do they treat their parents kindly? Do they belittle others? It isn’t always jail or dancing on a table that distinguishes the “bad” from the “good,” but the level of respect someone offers others… friends as well as strangers. 

So, this mama will give you some advice (and I try not to do that often). Even if you are unsure about an aspect of your parenting… if you might be trying something new and don’t know if it will, in the end, become part of your lifestyle, if someone confronts you on an aspect of parenting, pretend you know exactly what you're doing –even if you don’t have the slightest idea. People smell fear and pounce on it. If you are able to matter-of-factly state "We're more casual about bedtimes. It works for us," then even if they tsk tsk you and your style, you can shrug and say, "Isn't it great we all get to parent the way we want to?" There’s even a non-committal way to acknowledge someone in a respectful way, say an elderly aunt who really does mean well. You could say, "Thanks! I never thought of that. Not sure if we'll try it, but thanks for telling me about it” or even just “Thanks, I never thought of that,” even if you’ve heard it a hundred times already. 

But the caveat about standing up for your beliefs, even when you’re unsure is you cannot bitch/complain/whine about whatever you are faking about., at least to the uninitiated. Complaining is an open gate to criticism; everyone thinks they know better. Even those that complain about their own lives/kids! 

I hope you mamas who find yourselves struggling with these issues find some solace that many, many La Leche League children, Dr. Sears’ own sons and an entire generation and a half of AP kids have become wonderful adults. I mean, just look at mine!

Meghann, Darren, Aimee & Tristan (circa 2005)


Mama & Baby Tattoos

NursingFreedom.org put up a post earlier this week of pictures of women's tattoos that depicted mothers and babies... nursing and birthing.

This inspired me to add a post here, one that'll continue growing as women find this or as we get even more tattoos representing our lives as birthing women.

If you'd like to send yours in, please send it to NavelgazingMidwife at gmail dot com. Please write what you would like to see under your piece... names, names of kidlets, what the tattoo means to you, etc.

I look forward to watching this project grow!

This is my tattoo, still a work in progress. I bartered this tattoo for a homebirth of the tattoo artist (Craig Driscoll who owns FiveTwoTattoo in San Diego) and his wife. It's hard to tell who got the better deal.

Just as we have birthstones, we also have birth flowers. I have a large flower for each of my four babies.

Starting at the bottom is the Tiger Lily... May's flower. This is for Meghann.

Moving up, to the left is the periwinkle daisy. This is for Aimee who was born in April.

Above the lily to the right, is a purple rose. This is for Sarah's son (still one of my own... nursed him and all) who was born in June.

Up behind Tinker Bell's butt is Tristan's marigold, October's flower.

The plumeria are for Sarah and I (who LOVE Kaua'i) and Tink is my girl.

This was a gift from a dear friend to Megan Miles as she began midwifery school. She's since added a yellow glow above the moon and the words, "While we breathe, we will hope."

Both of the above are Kimberly Kepples. She says:

The Triskele (spiral) represents birth, wisdom and motherhood. Some view it as also representing mind, body and spirit.

The Tree of Life has birds among the branches, representing each of my children. My tattoo artist did a variation on the tree that, to me, gave it a feminine twist with the swirls and colors.


This is Lori Rose's Celtic Knot. She says:

This is my Celtic motherhood knot.  (The photo was taken right after I had it inked, so that's why my skin is all red...)  It has a blue dot for my older son and a green dot for my younger son.  I'll be adding a purple dot for my baby girl as well.

Allyson says:

My tattoo is a pin-up girl style representation of the Goddess Yemaya. Goddess Yemaya is the goddess of the ocean, the essence of motherhood, and a protector of babies and children. She is the patron deity of babies, children, and women - especially pregnant women and women going through the journey of childbirth. I got this tattoo 6 years ago as an aspiring midwife, when I could only dream of supporting women and their babies as only a midwife can. The tattoo was done by a wonderful artist at Hula Moon
Tattoos in Pensacola, Florida.

A mama who prefers to remain anonymous says:

When I consulted with my artist to develop these tattoos, I had a very basic idea of what I wanted.  I provided him with that guidance, being fantasy oriented and so therefore my daughters as fairies.  The only other thing I provided him with were pictures of my three children.  I told him that I didn't want portrait style pictures of them, instead a general representation. 
The back art shows my youngest daughter sitting on her blankie (she has always had a purple blankie since she was born) in a tree.  She is easily content and observes the world around her.
The tattoo representing my older daughter is that of a fairy riding a bird.  This very much represents her adventurous spirit and tomboyish attitude.
My son is protrayed as a dragonrider.  He is cognitively impaired so loved the idea of having him looked out for by 'his' dragon.  And he loved the dragonriders in the movie Eragon.

We want to see more! Please send yours in.


LLL Founder Gone

La Leche League has had such a positive influence in my life. I changed my parenting style because of the books I was loaned through LLL. I found life-long friends through League. My partner and I met at a LLL meeting and my apprentice and I also met at a LLL meeting.

The Founding Mothers, in 1956, had no idea what they were doing when they gathered together to support each other as they struggled to breastfeed in a world that idolized bottles. But, their meeting has forever changed the breastfeeding terrain.

Edwina Froehlich died at 93 on Sunday, June 8, 2008.

Only 6 Founding Mothers remain.

Join and support LLL when and where you can.


Phenomenal Breastfeeding Story

Thanks to Barb in New Orleans, we get to see this CNN Story.

Breastfeeding Hero tells the story of a policewoman who instinctively nursed as many babies as she could after the earthquake in China May 12.

How wonderful that now she is a national hero!

She is mine, too.


To Give the "Teta" is to Give Life

Dar La TeTA es dar ViDA

(To Give Ninny/Boob/Tit/Side/Pecho/Na Na/etc. Is to Give Life!) is a wonderful video on You Tube.

The video, in black and white, shows babies, toddlers and children nursing with a bouncy song in Spanish playing along.

Thanks to midwife Dagmar for the complete translation!

Sleep, sleep, little black one,
because your mother is in the field, little black one,
sleep, sleep, my life,
because your mother is in the field, my life.

She's going to bring you quails for you
She's going to bring delicious fruits for you
She's going to bring pork for you
She's going to bring many things for you

And if the little black one doesn't sleep
the white devil comes and zas!
eats his little leg - chicapumba!

Sleep, sleep, little black one,
because your mother is in the field, little black one

ENJOY the video! It's a gem... and your nurslings will make you watch it a thousand times - I just bet!


Wedded Bliss

As soon as I saw her dress, I knew I needed to photograph her nursing her 14-month old son. I set her on the chair, she began nursing and I "saw" the colors grow with adding the bouquet and ring bearer's pillow (don't all nursing women use pillows anyway?). I ended up taking about 50 photos from 3 different angles. In most of the photos, she is tenderly looking at her son. This is the only photo in which she is smiling and, in my opinion, is the absolutely most exquisite one of all.

Besides my daughter's wedding, this was the first wedding I photographed. The bride is a family member and a client (Read her birth story here), so most of the people at the wedding knew me, which makes it easy to click the shutter and have beautiful photos come into being.

I know most of you will adore this as I do - and yes, I will be submitting this for publication.



My childbirth instructor/past client/mentor nursing her almost 3-year old. No words can tell you what this woman and child have taught me. You might remember this birth story as the woman who crawled through her birth feline-like. She IS feral and untamed. Absolutely without shame and filled with the love of the world. I learn so much from her every day. Posted by Picasa


Older Tandem Nurslings

My apprentice nursing her 4.5 year old and 2 year old. Posted by Picasa


Tandem Chatting

Two mamas tandem nursing. Posted by Picasa



Tandem Nursing On The Beach 9/8/06 Posted by Picasa