The Pros and Cons of Mechanical Breast Pumps vs Manual Breast Pumps and Their Environmental Impact

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It’s interesting to see how quickly technology progresses today. If you watch this video with kids trying to figure out rotary phones, you’ll realize how far we’ve come along in just the past 50 years.

While technology improves our standard of living and brings greater efficiency to our daily lives, occasionally they cause more harm than good. And in some cases, they’re completely unnecessary!

Here’s my 17 minute video rant on my experience with a mechanical vs. manual breast pump. 

Call me crazy, but I find my manual breast pump to be WAY better on so many levels than my mechanical pump. (Why do I have both? I got a hand-me down mechanical pump that was used only once). Call me crunchy, hippy, or whatever, but I swear, my hand pump is by far better than my mechanical pump. This youtube mom of 4 agrees!

Here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of the two different types of pumps I use:

  Medela Pump In Style Advanced Mechanical Double Breast Pump

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Lasinoh Manual Hand Pump

 

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Weight & Bulk 7 lbs and is so heavy and large it comes in its own bag that I need to carry separately from my work bag. So light I can’t weigh it…it’s several ounces. So small and light I can slip it into my purse.
Convenience & Comfort Convenient with the hands free bra because I can type, eat, do anything with my hands while pumping. However, it’s big, heavy, and bulky so it’s inconvenient to carry around. I also need a power source—to plug it in or always have AA batteries ready to go.

The suction is controlled via the power source and if on too high of a setting can make it very for the nipples. It is also a little confusing in the beginning because it looks like a laboratory experiment with all the wires, tubing, bottles, and flanges. Had tender nipples when I first started using it.

Requires my hands—one to express the boob, and the other to pump. Does not require any additional power source other than the hand! Very easy and not difficult to squeeze. Super light and fits into my purse.

The suction is controlled with your hand and so you have no way of sucking too hard. It’s much easier and theres an additional little comfort padding that makes it softer and more cushion-y on the breast. Never had a problem with tender nipples.

Loud Factor Pretty loud! Requires me to find a place I feel comfortable with the machine going for 10-15 minutes. Super quiet, I could pump in a library without anyone noticing.
Efficiency in Pumping I pump 6 oz in 10-13 minutes

 

I pump 6 oz in 8-11 minutes

I break down in the video why manual pumping is quicker for me.

Cost Retails $299.99 but can be subsidized through insurance or varying different types and versions can be free thanks to the Affordable Care Act 2014 Retails $34.99
Environmental Impact Requires manufacturing of the mechanical component of the breast pump, extra plastic for the tubing, and additional pump, additional manufacturing of cloth, zippers, synthetic materials for the backpack, also requires energy to power the pump, uses AA batteries when on the go, and is much heavier and larger in trucking/shipping/transportation costs which in combination create more emissions. Then…it gets thrown away at the end! Simple pump with one flange and minimal plastic manufacturing.

It’s weird to me that I don’t know a single mom who uses a hand pump. I get weird looks and “omygosh I can’t believe you use a hand pump. That must be so hard.” Well, nope, actually my hand pump is amazing, so simple to use, and doesn’t sound like a heaving cat. It’s just another one of those goddamn MUST HAVE baby items that I find to be a ridiculous marketing ploy by baby companies. I mean, they call the pump, “Pump in style.”

Aside from the manual pump being so easy and compact to use, it has a significantly  smaller foot print on mother earth. And yes, some parents don’t give a rat’s ass about the environment as long as their baby has THE BEST OF THE BEST. But maybe this item that costs 10x more is really NOT the best of the best. It is my belief that if we want to help protect the future of our children, we must help protect mother earth as well.  As a working mom away from my exclusively breastfed baby anywhere from 30-40 hours a week, I can safely conclude that the manual hand pump is more than sufficient and is not only easier to use, it’s a lot less bulk and a hell of a lot simpler. SO THERE YOU HAVE IT. GOT GETCHYOSELF A HAND PUMP!!!

The Hormones of the Menstrual Cycle (and why they matter!)

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In my last post, I outlined some reasons why understanding your cycle is super important!  Today we’ll go a little more in-depth into the menstrual cycle and take a look at how it all fits together.

There are two main phases of the menstrual cycle: the follicular phase and the luteal phase.  These two parts are separated by ovulation, which generally happens around the middle of the cycle, but can vary from woman to woman and cycle to cycle.  In the first half of the cycle, our bodies are producing a lot of estrogen, and in the second half we are producing a lot of progesterone.  Estrogen and progesterone have their own unique jobs in the body, and our fertility depends on them!  The image below shows estrogen levels in blue and progesterone in red.  The black line in the middle represents ovulation.

Menstrual Cycle Hormones (glad rags version)

 

The bottom of the chart above shows what happens in the ovaries during each phase of the cycle: at the beginning of each new cycle, several immature eggs begin growing and developing.  At some point during the follicular phase, one of the eggs emerges as the “dominant” egg, and continues growing alone (unless in the case of multiples, where two or more grow together).  The egg grows because of the increasing levels of estrogen in the body.  Eventually, the body reaches an “estrogen threshold” and the egg is developed enough to be released into the uterus.  The egg breaks through the ovarian wall and ovulation occurs!  It is swept up by the fimbria, small finger-like projections on the ends of the fallopian tubes) and is carried into the tube.  If sperm are already present, fertilization can occur.  If sperm are not present, the egg lives for only 12-24 hours and then is reabsorbed back into the body.  The follicular phase has ended.

The other thing estrogen does is the production of cervical fluid!  Cervical fluid is crucial for pregnancy, as it gives sperm a medium in which to swim once in the female body.  Cervical fluid is produced by the cervical crypts, inside the cervix, and changes in consistency and color throughout the cycle.  As a woman gets closer and closer to ovulation, the cervical fluid generally becomes more stretchy, wet and clear.  Each woman has her own, unique cervical fluid pattern.  Women who track this pattern each cycle can use the information to achieve pregnancy (they can time intercourse close to ovulation) as well as prevent pregnancy (they can identify when their fertility begins and ends, and avoid unprotected intercourse during that time).  Cervical fluid is, unfortunately, often misunderstood (“What the heck is all this stuff on my underwear?!”) but is an amazing part of being a woman!

But back to the cycle: once the egg is gone, the casing of the egg that is left behind in the ovary turns into the corpus luteum.  This tiny little temporary endocrine gland produces the hormone progesterone, which keeps the uterine lining intact for 10-16 days.  Progesterone, just like estrogen, is also super important for pregnancy to occur, since it takes a fertilized egg about 7 days to travel and implant into the uterine wall.  If progesterone doesn’t keep the uterine lining together, the fertilized egg has nowhere to implant and is swept from the body during the next menstrual flow.  Progesterone also raises our body temperature, just slightly, which is how some women track if they’ve already ovulated or not.

The corpus luteum lives for about 10-16 days, waiting for another hormonal message (human chorionic gonadotrophin or hCG, the hormone that is tested for in pregnancy tests).   If pregnancy has occurred, the corpus luteum will live for up to three months, continuing the production of progesterone until the placenta takes over.  This progesterone production ensures the uterine lining is not shed.  If pregnancy did not occur, the corpus luteum begins disintegrating, progesterone production stops, the uterine lining is shed and a new cycle begins.  The whole thing starts over!

Understanding your hormones is not only a huge step in understanding your fertility and your reproductive health, but it’s also empowering to know how your body works.  Check back for my next post on more information about how you can track your hormones and use the information they give to prevent or achieve pregnancy naturally.  Until next time!

An Infographic About C-Sections in the U.S.

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Bringing Birth Back
Source: TopRNtoBSN.com/

None for me, Thank You

Learning To Be Mom And Keep My Cup Full

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7 months ago my role in life changed dramatically. Job titles come and go, but “mom” will forever be a part of who I am now. Before becoming a mom, I was a girlfriend, then a fiancee, then a wife.  All these changes required deeper communication, maturity, resilience, negotiation, respect, patience, and understanding in order to maintain a healthy, happy life together.

I have to admit, over the last few weeks, my busy days got the best of me. A typical day started off with a morning feed for baby, rushing to get dressed and ready for work while keeping baby entertained, making breakfast for husband and I, leaving baby with our nanny, working my stressful 9-5 while pumping every 3 hours, getting home, cooking dinner, cleaning up and organizing the house, doing some laundry while bathing baby, getting baby to bed, and then falling asleep sometimes with makeup on because I’m just so tired and exhausted. I felt like I was drowning in this endless amount of work. On top of it all, baby has been teething and waking up every 1.5 to 3 hours in the night. I began to feel really awful about my workload and harbored bits of resentment towards my husband.

The thing about my husband and I, is that we’ve grown a lot in the communication department since we first started dating.  Early on, we allowed jealousy, fear, insecurity, and misunderstanding to build up in our hearts until it would explode into unproductive arguments. It’s not easy to get to a root issue because it’s often sugar coated with emotions that are uncomfortable to discuss. I’m grateful we were able to have a mature, open and honest discussion a week ago. I needed it tremendously. I was overwhelmed and didn’t know why I felt bitter. When I expressed to him the difficult idea that I was resentful towards him, I couldn’t understand why I felt that way. I wanted to say he doesn’t help enough with the baby or around the house, but that’s not true. He does help when he can. It then dawned on me a week later that it was because I was losing myself and becoming unhappy overall. I wasn’t centered, my days were rushed, and I found no fulfillment day to day. I was hanging by a thread and the easiest route was to point an accusatory finger at the closest person to me, my husband.

My friend Dr. Shannetta Robinson shared this touching video by Jada Pinkett Smith about being a mom. Becoming a mom is life changing, and a lot of what our society tells us is that our lives are over and it’s all about the baby and family. However, I truly believe what Jada says is true. Moms need to first fill their own cup of happiness, so that it can overflow into their family. If mom is running on empty, she’ll start to point fingers and be upset at others for her own unhappiness.

This weekend I got a nice 2 hour break to see old friends. They say distance makes the heart grow fonder and a little distance from my fam definitely makes me appreciate and miss them more. I have my own dreams and aspirations, but I’ve got to balance them with mom life. My husband and I came to the conclusion that I need to take more “me” time. I’m thinking about swimming and doing yoga on a regular basis. There’s also this awesome Shiatsu Massage place I found nearby. I’ve gotta learn to take some “treatyoself” days.  I’m just learning to figure this whole mom thing out day by day.

Today is September 17, 2014

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Today is September 17th, 2014. My son is a nice reminder that I can never relive a day. He’s only going to get bigger.

This life has many distractions. There are too many. The new, the latest and greatest, they bombard me. I’d like to let go of all that begs for my time. Let me fall into this moment here and now.

fertility

4 Big Reasons Why Understanding Your Menstrual Cycle Is Important

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If someone told me 4 years ago I’d be singing the praises of my hormones and menstrual cycle, I would have told them, “You’re crazy!”  For my whole cycling life, I hated the fact that I had to bleed and tried to forget about my cycle as much as possible.  It was annoying, and although I understood it was part of the baby-making process, I didn’t understand why it mattered during the times when I wasn’t having kids.  I wanted to just turn it off until I was ready.

Luckily, I was also instinctively wary of hormonal birth control (which certainly would have “turned things off”) and started looking for natural birth control options.  This lead me to the Fertility Awareness Method, a natural birth control option that required me to begin the process of understanding my body and my cycle more intimately than I ever had before.  My whole outlook on life shifted (and I’m not being hyperbolic) when I started understanding my cycle.  I could not believe no one had explained to me how amazing my body is and how important my cycle is to my overall health and wellbeing.  This is only scratching the surface, but these are 4 of the biggest reasons why your cycle is actually really important and beneficial to you as a momma and a woman!

1. If you’re trying to get pregnant, there’s a fertility window every month.

Many women don’t know this, but there is actually a very specific time during each cycle when pregnancy can actually occur.  That’s because sperm can only survive in the female body when cervical fluid is present (more on this in the future… you’ll love it).  Once ovulation occurs, the egg can only live for about 12-24 hours.  If it isn’t fertilized within that window, then pregnancy won’t occur that cycle.  Timing intercourse to achieve pregnancy can be a million times easier if you know when your fertility window opens and when it closes.

(An interesting side note: men are fertile ALL THE TIME from puberty until death, with some declining fertility in the later years.  Our bodies, however, operate on cyclical patterns with times of fertility and times of rest, just like the natural seasons, that all depend on our hormones).

2. Knowing your menstrual cycle can be used as a natural birth control or child spacing option.

Because we only have one fertile window per cycle, the rest of the cycle is safe for unprotected intercourse if you’re trying to prevent pregnancy.  The best way to use natural birth control is by using the Fertility Awareness Method, which uses cervical fluid and body temperature patterns to determine when fertility begins and ends.  This piece of the puzzle is my specialty, so you’ll definitely be hearing more about this in the future!

3. You can better understand and prepare yourself for emotional ups and downs (aka: HORMONES).

Menstrual Cycle Hormones (glad rags version)

The drastic hormonal changes we go through each cycle not only affect our fertility, but our emotions as well.  Many women feel the rush and excitement of higher estrogens levels towards the beginning and middle of the cycle (the blue line above), and act more extroverted, verbal, confident, flirtatious, and energetic.  Towards the end of the cycle, when progesterone levels are dropping (the red line above), many women feel the need to retreat, reflect, and be still.  If you understand why you are feeling a certain way, it validates the feeling and allows you to give yourself what you need.

4. You can empower yourself by understanding your body and the way it works.

Have you ever felt disconnected from you body?  Frustrated about being a woman?  Confused about your cycle?  Wanting more information than your doctor provides?  Then understanding your menstrual cycle can help with all these issues and more!  By checking in with your cycle each day, you can develop an amazing relationship with your body, sexuality, and reproductive system.

Ready to dive in?  In my next post, I’ll explain the different phases of the menstrual cycle using the image below, the hormones involved, and how it affects our bodies physically.  If you’re ready to read more right away, check out the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.

The Menstrual Cycle

 

 

By Mindy Dymin

The Liberation I’ve Found in Saggy, Breastfeeding Boobs

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When I was pregnant I was certain I’d breastfeed. I attempted to imagine how it would feel, but in reality, I couldn’t. Thankfully the journey with my little milk sucking leech started without a hitch and we’ve both had a pretty easy ride. Greater than providing nutrition for my baby, breastfeeding completely changed my paradigm about human sexuality. Maybe that’s because a baby exited my womb and now the whole “s-e-x” means more than just play time in bed.

I stumbled upon this art project by Laura Dodsworth entitled, “Bare Reality” and it encompasses exactly what I’ve been feeling and so much more.  The moment I saw these images, the feminist in me was amused, the naive Pastor’s kid in me was made a little uncomfortable, but ultimately the fine artist in me applauded the series.

breasts
Photographs below all by: Laura Dodsworth

What’s truly moving about her pieces is not merely shock value imagery. The juxtaposition of these culturally over-sexualized body parts with emotionally charged stories about their owners reveals “the dichotomy between how women feel about their breasts privately and how they are presented for public consumption through the media,” as stated by Dodsworth’s artist statement. 

Below are excerpts from stories and images she’s collected.

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Age: 21. Children: none

‘Conversations with my mum about weight started at a very early age’

breasts: 21-year-old‘I did notice that men looked at me differently after my breasts grew’

I like my breasts; they’re quite big and not too saggy. They’re not the best pair I have ever seen, or the worst. My dad is Turkish and Muslim, and my mum is Jewish. I’m an atheist, but I have this weird ethnic mix. If I am with my Muslim grandparents, I do think about what I am wearing.

Some of my biggest arguments with my mum have been about my weight. She says she has struggled with her weight and the way she looks all her life, and she doesn’t want me to go through that. If she thinks I have potential, she will push me, and I respect that. She just thinks if I looked after my weight more, I would look better.

I think what Page 3 does is very damaging to young women. It’s like: “This is the benchmark; this is what men find attractive. I don’t look like this; therefore I can’t be attractive to men.” It affects our perception of beauty, and makes young women think they are valued for their sexuality, and not for their thoughts and actions.

I did notice that men looked at me differently after my breasts grew. At uni, I found myself having more casual sex than I ever thought I would. It was almost as if I felt grateful that people found me attractive, which is ridiculous.

In my first year I was part of a very laddish sports club, and there was a lot of pressure to conform. I ended up sleeping with half of them. I haven’t had a boyfriend. I sometimes think that’s abnormal. I do want one, but I wouldn’t have achieved the things I’ve achieved if I’d had a relationship. At the end of a night recently, I was kissing a male friend, whom I have slept with a couple of times, but I told him I just wanted to go home. I said, “I know it’s happened before, but I don’t want to.” He basically forced me to give him head. It was pretty horrendous. That was a guy I thought I had a good relationship with. Halfway through, I managed to stop him. We were both horrendously drunk, which doesn’t help. He says he doesn’t remember it. It still upsets me. I never say I was a rape victim. I think a lot of young women accept that sort of behaviour, because our attitudes to consent are blurred. It makes me feel sick thinking about it. It’s affected me more profoundly than I thought it could.

Age: 33. Children: two

‘God gives life and creates, and as a woman you can connect with that’

breasts: 33-year-old‘The church has had a lot to do with women feeling negative about their bodies’

My breasts are smaller than they were a couple of months ago. I stopped breastfeeding my daughter when she turned one. I’m not sad about it, but the clothes I wear have changed. Things that looked nice before are baggy now. In my role as a priest, I have to wear clerical shirts, which come right up to the neck. On maternity leave I quite enjoyed wearing lower-cut tops in conjunction with bigger boobs. It was nice to get a suntan on my chest and feel a bit more feminine.

The way the clergy dress is partly to diminish our individuality. The priest is vulnerable to quite a lot of projections and transference, because we hold a particular emotionally loaded position; we deal with inner worlds and spirituality.

I feel completely comfortable breastfeeding in church and I encourage other mothers to do so. In the Eucharist service, there is a prayer at which the bread and the wine are offered to God and made holy. The words of Jesus are said during that prayer, about the bread: “This is my body, broken for you; do this in remembrance of me.” And the wine, “This is my blood, given for you.” As I was breastfeeding my baby at that time, the image of Jesus feeding his friends at the last supper, and then the church for generations and generations, had a profound resonance for me.

I have found that quite sustaining when I have been trying to work out the spirituality of being both a mum and a priest, and how those significant things fit together in my life. Both roles require availability to the people you care for. I’ve had to work out how to share myself between the two things.

The Christian church has had a lot to do with women feeling negative about their bodies and ashamed of their sexuality. I think men are probably quite afraid of women’s power to bring forth life and feed their babies. That’s probably part of the reason women have been oppressed and made to feel ashamed.

I encourage women to feel comfortable in church, and I’ve led by example. Baring my breasts in my own church [to breastfeed] wasn’t something I imagined I would be doing. It doesn’t sit uncomfortably with me, though: it’s natural and important, not remotely embarrassing.

Age: 19. Children: none

‘Boys seemed angry with me for getting rid of something they admired’

breasts: 19-year-old‘All through school, I was known as “that one with the big breasts” ‘

Before I had my reduction surgery, I felt a mixture of distaste and shame towards my breasts. I had a lot of physical problems, which were the main reasons I had the reduction. They ended up taking 2kg of fat from my breasts.

I feel much better about them now. I used to sweat more, and I was embarrassed because I thought I smelled. I used to get very bad back problems. There would be times it would take ages to get out of bed or, if I’d been sitting for a while, I would get pain in my lower spine. I still have deep grooves on my shoulders from my bras.

I’ve gone down about six cup sizes. I’m now a DD. That was the most I was able to have taken off without it looking disproportionate to my shape. I’ve always had a broader figure than other girls, sadly, much as I’ve always wanted to be petite. If I could choose any body shape, I would be 5ft 3in, very petite, and preferably a lot smaller in the chest. A lot of my friends when I was growing up were smaller, and everyone thought they were pretty and cute. I’m not tall and beautiful, and I’m not small and cute.

I used to get very venomous looks from girls in the changing rooms at school when we had PE. Some girls thought that I must have had surgery to enhance them. I was a 34GG. Occasionally I’d get rude and suggestive comments from boys, but I used to have more problems with them staring. It made me feel extremely uncomfortable. I felt it was how people defined me. All through high school and college, I was known as “that one with the big breasts”. The breasts were all most people saw when they looked at me.

When I first told people I was having a reduction, the reactions from girls and boys were completely different. My very best friend was more excited than I was. She knew how much it affected me and how upset I was about it. She was really supportive. Boys were the ones I had more problems with. They said things like, “How could you do that? That’s like slapping God in the face”, and, “How could you get rid of them? They’re amazing!” It was as if boys were angry with me for getting rid of something they admired.

I’m asexual, and don’t have a partner. I haven’t had intercourse, although there have been times when I’ve got close to foreplay. I’ve had sensations in my breasts when I’ve been with someone, but it hasn’t been arousal. I would say my breasts were sensitive and I get some feeling from them, but it hasn’t encouraged me to go further. Because I had a bilateral reduction, in which the nipple is moved to put it in the right place, I’ve lost nearly all sensitivity.

The surgery lasted for about four hours. They remove a triangular sandwich of fat, bring the parts together, then move the nipple so it’s in proportion to the newly reduced breast. The scarring is fading very quickly. It’s not red or irritated, as it it was. It will probably be almost fully healed in a couple of years.

I used to have to order bras from specialist websites. I couldn’t wear strapless bras or dresses. I look at going clothes-shopping completely differently now. I can buy pretty underwear – it’s wonderful. Though lots of companies make petite ranges, there are only a few that make anything specifically for busty women. My best friend took me shopping for bras after my surgery. She turned around to me and said, “I want you to see this, it will make you really happy.” She had found one of my old size bras and was wearing one of the cups on her head, and she said, “Look how small you are now, compared with this!” I felt so happy seeing that, knowing just how far I had come. It was hard work carrying all that around.

Age: 101. Children: one

‘I would never have gone topless, even in my younger days’

breasts: 101-year-old‘I fell over last week – that’s why I have a bruise’

My daughter was born a week before Hitler marched in, and my milk went. It was the shock. We were Jewish. I intended to breastfeed her, but in the end she grew very well without it.

My husband was taken on Kristallnacht. He had gone out, against my advice. The authorities wanted me out of my flat. I went to the SS headquarters and told them in no uncertain terms what I thought of them: “I’m not going to leave my flat and you can kiss my arse!” Maybe it was foolish, but attack is the best defence. My husband was in Dachau and somehow I had to get him out. My husband’s boss was an ex-Nazi, but he was a very nice man, and fond of us. I asked him what to do, and he said, “Go to the Gestapo.” I thought that was a good idea. My parents said I couldn’t, but I said, “I’m not afraid of the Devil! If it helps, I will do it.” I rang up and made an appointment.

I saw a middle-aged man and we got talking. After half an hour, he had to go, but he said, “I promise I will get your husband out, in three weeks, but I want something from you.” I thought I knew what he wanted, but I said, “Oh, what can I do for you?” “I want you to visit me twice a week. I love talking to you.” I was quite prepared for anything. What’s my little thing, if it means getting him out? It’s unimportant. But the man really did only want to talk. And after three weeks, to the day, my husband came home.

We came to England as refugees with no money, so we had to start from the bottom, with a one-year-old child. I began as a secretary and worked in the rag trade in a showroom in the West End.

When I was 52, I had a lump in my breast. I’d had a hysterectomy four years earlier, but there was nothing there; it was benign. This time I thought it would be cancer. In those days, they did not take a biopsy: if there was a lump, the whole breast was removed – that was standard. It was benign and I didn’t need the radio treatment I’d been about to start.

I said to my husband, “Do you mind having a wife with only one breast?” He said, “Would you mind if I lost a leg?” I said, “Of course not!” “So there you go.” We talked about everything, and that is why we had 52 happy years.

My breasts were erogenous. My husband and I had a very good sexual relationship, as well as the friendship. Nothing changed after the mastectomy – our sex life didn’t change until my husband had an operation for his prostate. I consider I was blessed: 52 years, how many people are blessed with that? Not many.

I fell over last week – that’s why I have a bruise. It hurts. But it’ll go. The last time I fell over was more than a year ago. I don’t use a stick yet.

When my nipple suddenly became inverted about 10 years ago, I went to the clinic to have it examined. I know it is a sign of cancer, but it can also be a sign of old age. It doesn’t bother me.

I was conscious of the mastectomy and wouldn’t have exposed my chest. I would never have gone topless anyway, never, even in my younger days. Don’t forget, I was born in 1912.

My breasts were always small, and I didn’t consider myself very good-looking, but I was vivacious and always had lots of friends and boyfriends. My body didn’t bother me.

I’m very careful with my appearance. I wear a prosthesis. I forgot it once on holiday. I had to use loads and loads of plastic bags! If I go swimming, I have a costume with an insert. I used to swim every day until three years ago. When I was 97, I would swim 20 lengths in one go, but my physiotherapist said it was too much.

Age: 40. Children: one

‘I’ve got a great pair of melons’

breasts: 40-year-old‘You can have great sex regardless of what they look like’

I adore my breasts. I think they’re fantastic. I’ve got a great pair of melons! I like that they are perky, and that one is bigger than the other. Last weekend I realized with horror that they were beginning to sag slightly. I wonder if it’s because I’ve lost weight, or could it just be age-related? Now they’re touching my stomach, and I don’t like that feeling.

I would have liked to breastfeed, but I didn’t produce enough milk. I had to mix bottle and breast. The electric milk extractors in hospital are literally like cow’s milking machines. You attach one to each breast, and it’s painful. One of my most poignant memories is doing that while fireworks went off on New Year’s Eve. I felt devastated.

I’ve been single for three years, and I think, “Shit! What will a partner think of them? They didn’t see them when they were perky and gorgeous.” I had a seven-year relationship with a man, then a seven-year relationship with a woman. I think a lesbian might judge breasts the same way as a man, but it would depend whether or not she’d had children.

A woman I dated had been very big and lost weight so dramatically that her boobs sagged to her belly button. But it didn’t matter, because I fancied the pants off her. Sex is sex, and you can have great sex regardless of what they look like. My boobs are important in a sexual relationship.

I was your average Asian girl in the 70s. I had a strict upbringing and no friends outside the family unit. Then I got a white boyfriend, and started wearing jeans and showing off my figure. I look back at pictures now, and I was stunning. I’ve got brown skin and no wrinkles – Asian skin doesn’t age as much. My breasts are getting looser around the nipples, the skin is thinning and the elasticity’s going. The rest of my body doesn’t seem to have that. I don’t mind ageing.

It wouldn’t be appropriate to wear a low-cut dress to work, but I might wear a well-cut shirt. Sometimes I change at the end of the evening, even for a short walk home. I don’t want men to look, and I don’t want to feel unsafe. I should be able to wear a beautiful dress with my boobs showing, but I won’t. What that says about society is tragic.

• These interviews are edited excerpts from Laura Dodsworth’s projectBare Reality. She is fundraising for a book of the project.

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Coincidentally, a week before I saw Dodsworth’s photography, I did a quick charcoal sketch of myself on all fours. Why? Because when I’m posed like a dog, my breasts reveal how motherhood has warped my body. My son prefers my left breast and as a result, my left milk jug makes about 3 times the amount my right makes, and now my breasts look completely different. My breasts are now much saggier, uneven, and lopsided. But there’s something so humbling and liberating about this development. I’m no longer a slave to the unrealistic expectations of looking 20 and unblemished my whole life and it feels amazing.

 

 

fertility

Introducing Ashley Annis and Fertility Awareness

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If you’re like me, you might hear the title “fertility awareness educator” and go “wahhhh?” As adults we know about the birds and the bees, and understand there is fertility behind it all so why do we need to be more aware about it?

Well I came in contact with Ashley Annis and all of a sudden it all made sense. Fertility awareness not only helps you track your female hormonal cycles and understand when you’re ovulating, it’s a great natural method of birth control!

So here’s Ashley, and she will be a writer here at Bump into Reality sharing useful content on our lovely lady parts. She shares so many fascinating details that we just don’t learn in high school sex ed. This type of knowledge can empower us to make positive, healthy decisions for our present and future. If you want to take courses from Ashley you can find her website here.

Head Shot 2014
Ashley Annis

“I’m a certified fertility awareness educator and reproductive health educator and love teaching women about their amazing bodies!  I initially got into the fertility awareness method (FAM) because I was looking for a hormone free birth control alternative.  I knew I didn’t want to be on The Pill, and although no one had ever taught me about effective alternatives, I knew there had to be a better way.  I did a lot of researching and self study and taught myself how to chart my cycle.  I had no idea that my body was only fertile for a small window each cycle!

I had a lot of questions about the method and looked for teachers, but couldn’t really find any.  That’s when I decided that this information was too important for women to go without, and that I needed to become the teacher I was looking for.  I’ve been studying and learning for 3 years now, and love passing on this amazing information.  I teach online and in-person natural birth control classes, and will soon be added conscious conception classes as well.
The more I used the method and understood my body, the more I realized FAM was more than just natural birth control.  I realized it’s a way of life, of thinking, of treating my body.  Now that I understand the natural flow of my hormones and my body, I respect myself more than I ever have.  I love being a woman, having a cycle, and being capable of producing life.  Our fertility is not a curse or a disease that needs to be medicated.  It’s a beautiful, mysterious cycle that can be understood with a little practice.  We can learn to work with our cycle and appreciate it! “
-Ashley Annis, Certified fertility awareness educator and reproductive health educator

Newborn Tip: Gold Bond Powder for Umbilical Cord Stumps

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The instant you have a baby you’ll see how bizarre human conception and creation is. I mean…this life form comes out of a womb, and is connected to this crazy looking placenta. Beyond the crazy mind trip, you now have to care for the remnant of this placental cord until it falls off. You certainly don’t want it to get infected, and don’t want it to brush up on too many things so that it doesn’t irritate your new little alien.

NEWBORN TIP:

Use Gold Bond Powder on that lovely baby stump! It’ll dry out that sucker and allow it to fall off faster than any other product. Additional tip: get it in the travel size so that it’s easy to powder the stump during every diaper change.


@the8dunlaps on baby center also agrees. She posted “my midwife always had us get a small travel size of gold bond medicated powder…and powder the cord every diaper change. She said no alcohol as it can actually preserve and make the cord rot, all of my kids with alcohol treated cords took weeks, but my gold bond powder babies (I have 6) all fell off within 2-6 days max.”

Mindy's Clothing

Learning To Be Mom

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I caught my baby’s first “mom” on video. Ironically, he wasn’t cuddled in my arms but on the floor while I tried to get in a little tune while he was in a good mood.

 

I’m 6 months in now. Didn’t know what it would be like on this side. I feel like I’ve travelled into outerspace or warped through a tunnel into another world. 7 months ago I was not mom. Today, I’m “mum.”

My greatest fear during pregnancy was actually about myself. Maybe it’s a little egotistical but all I could think about was how my life would change. I tried to imagine myself as a mom and it didn’t seem to fit in with my lifestyle. I like to be spontaneous and being a mom seemed like lots of scheduling, preparation, and homemaking. I like cooking but I hate washing dishes. I love wearing different types of clothing but hate laundry. There were still a lot of loose ends I was trying to fix in my life and I couldn’t comprehend how I could become a mom.

Tonight I had a revelation though. I think I could have saved myself a lot of anxiety and fear if I had just joined instagram sooner. Haha…yes. Instagram. I stumbled upon a few moms by chance and realized that there are a community of mothers just like me. For the past 6 months I’ve been trying to fit into this square of a mom I thought moms had to be. I started to wear black all the time and even contemplated getting rid of all my clothing and creating a uniform to wear everyday just to save time. Tonight, I went into my closet and had a good happy cry.

Mindy's ClothingI touched my dresses and looked at all the patterns and colors I hand picked throughout the years and felt deeply within my heart that I was still the same person pre-baby, and that I could still be “mum” in the same skin.

And then it occurred to me that my son will have a personality one day, and that he may not like the type of clothing I wear, or the lifestyle I lead. O well, I guess it doesn’t matter because he’ll always be my son whether he likes me or not. What an peculiar thought.

Alternative info on pregnancy, labor, and parenting for the modern parent.