Why Moms Celebrate Babies Monthly Milestone Birthdays
I cannot believe that Theodore is 8 months old today! Happy birthday little teddy bear! 🐻🍰🍼 pic.twitter.com/j6EpYVQDSd— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) November 27, 2016
It looks like she felt the need to defend the tweet here:
Lol. Of course, you are right! Only in a baby's first year of life would a parent "celebrate" a child's birthday on a monthly basis! https://t.co/jsDWkWHeEW— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) November 27, 2016
If you've never had children yourself, then you would have no idea why a parent would celebrate each month. However, think back to when you had your first boyfriend or girlfriend in jr. high or high school, or even to your first year of marriage. Chances are you celebrated each month on the day you met or started dating (or got married) because it was new, fun and exciting and the year anniversary seemed so far off. This is how new parents feel too. Being a mom to a newborn is hard work. Heck, being a mom to a child of any age is hard work in it's own way. My little guy (baby #3) turns 2 tomorrow and I could write a novel about how hard some days are. But regardless if you are Ivanka Trump (not sure she would admit to it or not, I have no idea) or a mom who's blog you read or know in real life who appears to have it all together, to you and me - motherhood is HARD! I'm not saying it's hard everyday for the ladies listed above, and of course the more daily help you have the easier it can be to get the daily house/cooking/cleaning/chores/carting-children-here-and-there stuff done, but deep down in the back of our minds when we finally sit down at the end of the day and the kids are finally asleep, we all have the same basic wants and desires for our children and most us wonder if we are measuring up in their tiny eyes and we worry about all the things most parents worry about when it comes to their children, so no, it's probably not a cake walk for anyone - celebrity or not, billionaire or not.
In a child's first year of life there are many milestones and almost everyone, including pediatricians, measure the baby's first year of life in months. Everything revolves around how old they are in months. (Same with pregnancy.) So of course a parent is going to celebrate each month as it comes because there are many reminders about how old the baby is in months. During their first year of life, many parent go to see their pediatrician every month for a well baby check-up. Often times it's done every 2 months, but I have known moms who take them monthly. Baby clothing sizes and shoe sizes are all categorized in months (and sometimes by weight) as are baby toys, baby diapers, well baby check-ups, even baby enrichment classes. So it's not unusual to celebrate a baby's monthly milestone "birthday." All you have to do is look on Pinterest to see a million posts and DIY ideas of how moms are celebrating each monthly milestone. Some say "Happy Birthday" some say, "Happy 6th month birthday" (or whatever month they are celebrating) some say, "Happy 9th month Anniversary of your birth," some even take a picture of their baby every single day for the first year (btw this is a lot easier when it's your first child) - I've seen it all and either way they say it, they are celebrating each month.
If you are a breastfeeding mother, you are sometimes even just trying to survive week-by-week at first because it can be tricky to get to that "sweet spot" where it no longer hurts, the baby finally has a good latch and where it gets easier and quicker and more comfortable to nurse at home as well as out in public and on the go. In my personal experience with breastfeeding all three of my children, by the third month we were finally in a really good spot where it wasn't a huge production to just nurse the baby. I felt very comfortable to nurse in public when I was finally feeling mobile with the baby and older children to get out and about in the real world. This sometimes happened before month #3, sometimes later depending on which baby it was and where I was in my postpartum depression (unfortunately I had PPD in varying degrees with all three children), but I'd say that by 3 months old I was feeling great and was ready to celebrate!
- This is why we need to please stop judging new mothers with breastfeeding in public. A new baby/infant eats every 2 hours in most cases (every 4 hours in older babies) and a new mother NEEDS to get out and get some fresh air and be out in the real world for her sanity. It's been a long journey from the delivery of the baby to get to this point. Let her nurse the baby and leave her alone. You have no idea what she has been through just to get to this point in her motherhood journey. She needs breastfeeding support from everyone around her to be successful. The WHO recommends a baby breastfeed until 2 years old (exclusively for the first 6 months) and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends moms to exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life and breastfeeding while supplementing with food until 1 year old. What does exclusively breastfeeding mean? Click the link to read more, but it basically means that nothing is supplemented - breastmilk only, no formula, no water or any food/solids - including adding rice cereal to the bottle to "help them sleep longer" which is a wives tale and can be dangerous for a newborn baby or infant under 4 months old. With that being said, exclusively breastfeeding can be tricky if the new mother is having a difficult time breastfeeding in the beginning like I did with baby #1 and needed to supplement with formula at night during those first few weeks just to get a break and to give my extremely sore nipples a bit of a break. Then we got over the hurdle of the nipple soreness and latch issues and went on to breastfeed without needing to supplement with formula until she was 6 months old when we started to introduced solids. (There was a bit of nipple confusion going from bottle back to breast because the baby has to work harder to pull the milk from the breast whereas the milk flows very easily from the nipple from a bottle - but I kept at it until she was successful.) I was still breastfeeding until she was 14 months old when we introduced organic cows milk. If you or someone you know is having a difficult time breastfeeding and you/they want to continue (it should be the mom's decision only since she is the one doing it), then please seek professional help and surround yourself with a strong support system to ensure a good, long lasting breastfeeding relationship with your baby. (If you don't want to continue then PLEASE don't feel guilty or beat yourself up over it. We all have our own motherhood journey. They all look different and should all be celebrated! If you do need support: A Lactation Consultant can help as well as the international breastfeeding support group, Le Leche League. Here is a great "Latch On" video for extra help too from the breast pump company Ameda. This video was invaluable to me with all three children. P.S. It's OK to need breastfeeding help with babies #2, #3, #4, #5, etc., even if you nursed baby #1 until they were 2 years old and feel you should be a professional by now. All babies are different and just like each pregnancy, labor and delivery (even parenting techniques) differ from child-to-child, you will have a different breastfeeding relationship with each one too. Don't be too hard on yourself. You will get past this hurdle and find the "sweet spot" again! But support for the breastfeeding mom at home and in her community is crucial.
- Not all moms own a breast pump either because they are very expensive, (some are $300+) so not all breastfeeding moms have breastmilk in a bottle when they are out in public. It can take about 30 minutes of pumping to just get 2-3 oz sometimes. Many times a baby will take 4-6 oz of breastmilk in one feeding - and they feed every 2-4 hours. Besides, if you are a breastfeeding mom, in order to keep your breastmilk supply up the baby needs to breastfeed on the breast. The breast pump, even a very good one, isn't going to have the same affect on keeping milk supply up. So just because a mom pumps, she will still need to put the baby to the breast the same amount of times to keep her supply up. If it bothers you to see a mom breastfeeding in public, look away. She should not have to find a filthy, stinky, cramped bathroom when her baby needs to eat. Babies do not wait. They are hungry and they need to eat and they scream when they are past the point of being hungry. Taking the time to pack up and move from wherever the mom is when the baby starts to get fussy and needs to eat and search for a bathroom because a stranger feels uncomfortable can push the baby way past the point of being hungry. Would you rather hear a screaming, crying baby while you are eating in a restaurant or have the mom quiet them while breastfeeding?
- As the baby gets older and is more curious about their world it gets harder and harder to keep a cover over their heads. All 3 of my children (as well as all of the babies of my breastfeeding mom friends) would just pull it off. Please take this into consideration when you are feeling upset that a mom is breastfeeding her child without a cover in public. Many times the baby won't keep it on regardless of how much a mom may try. Only newborns, tiny infants, sleeping babies or sometimes babies with sun in their eyes will nurse with a cover on. The older they get the more distracted by noises, new sights and sounds they get. Also, if a mom has older children and she is alone at a restaurant or park, do you really expect her to stop her kids from eating or playing and take her screaming infant to find a bathroom and sit on the toilet to nurse her baby? What are her older kids supposed to do? Stop putting so much pressure on mothers because you are feeling uncomfortable. Just stop! All you have to do is google breastfeeding mothers in the early part of the century and you'll see plenty of black and white photos of women nursing in public without a cover and no one is batting an eye. Like these here:
- Here are more breastfeeding photos throughout history that normalize breastfeeding
- 19 Works Of Art That Shows Breastfeeding Has Always Been Beautiful
So why exactly are moms celebrating each month again?
A baby changes so much during that first year. During the first 3 months your baby goes from being a head bobbing, tiny bowl of jelly to holding their own head up, looking around, smiling, cooing, recognizing you and other family members, reaching for toys. Diaper changes are sometimes up to 10 times a day+ during the first month! And breastfeeding or bottle feeding is usually about every 2 hours (even at night in most cases.) Often times if a baby is colicky, (meaning they can cry for a few hours at a time without stopping and there is no reason for it because they are fed, changed, warm, comfortable, nothing is poking them, etc.,) and it can last through the first 3 months. My 3rd was colicky and I still have PTSD from it. Colic is very, very, VERY stressful and can compound a mother's postpartum depression if she is already suffering from it. A mom can still be sore from the labor and delivery during the first month and in most cases is still having postpartum vaginal bleeding up to 6 weeks or more after the birth. In many, many cases if a mom has to return back to work, it's done before the 3 month milestone. Way before in most cases. Especially if she lives in the United States. Other countries have much longer maternity leave than the USA, even up to a year of paid maternity leave in some countries. In the US most moms get 6 weeks for a vaginal delivery and 8 weeks for a c-section delivery. It's not a coincidence that we also have a very high c-section rate in the US. As a mom I can tell you that often times it takes that long to just get into a good groove of life with having a new baby. It's not a process that happens over night and when a mom doesn't have any help, it can be a nightmare for her to return to work that soon. However, not all moms want to stay home past the 6 or 8 week mark and are ready to get back to work and have someone else take over the bulk of the day-to-day baby duties and she should not be judged for that either. Some moms don't have a choice in the matter regardless if they want to return to work or stay home. They need to make money to provide for their families and they should not be judged for that either. But this is why we need longer paid maternity leave too. Mothers need to be supported, period!
Months 3-6 they start to sit up on their own, roll over on their own (sometimes even before 3 months), laughing, babbling, batting at/starting to play with their toys, starting to get teeth, etc. If a mom is suffering from postpartum depression, she *might* be feeling some let up from it as the baby is growing more and more independent and her hormones are shifting back to normal (in some cases.)
Months 6-9 they start to pull themselves up to standing, more teeth are coming in, they are playing with toys, starting solid foods, recognizing more people, giving kisses, lots of babbling and words are now forming, etc.
Months 9-11 they are cruising all around the furniture (meaning they pull themselves up to a standing position and "walk" around the furniture while still holding onto everything), they are eating a varied diet while still having milk from the breast or breastmilk or formula from bottle only a few times a day - usually morning, afternoon, evening and night, they are now sitting in a high chair feeding themselves, some are starting to say a few words, some are starting to stand alone without holding onto anything.
Month 12 - Baby's First Birthday!
Some are starting to walk on their own now, or maybe a few steps here and there but all children are different. (My oldest was 14 months old before she started to walk on her own, baby #2 was 12 months and baby #3 was about 11 months. However, my own brother was actually 18 months before he started walking!) Most have a lot more teeth now (however, a family we know has a child who didn't even start the teething process until he was a year old and didn't get his first tooth until about 13-14 months old!) Oh and as you probably noticed, counting the child's age by months doesn't just stop at 12. It usually goes until they are 2. Clothes, shoes, diapers, toys, enrichment classes and even Pediatricians carry on counting each month until 2 as well.
Hopefully this post clears up why moms count and celebrate each month of a child's life. You need these little celebrations during the first year just to get you through. It's like loosing weight, saving for a large purchase, counting down the days until a big vacation from work or a visit from a loved one - you celebrate the baby steps along the way to get you through the hard days. Besides, for most of us the first year is a looooong one! There are many sleepless nights with a fussy, crying baby (especially when teething which is a nightmare in it's own.) But the bottom line is, is that we need to support and encourage mothers and stop bashing good mothers for their parenting choices.
Moms need to support other moms. Period.
To read more from My Tales From The Crib click here.
As you can see, I'm passionate about breastfeeding. If you'd like to read more, I have this post here regarding breastfeeding and Facebook. Or my breastfeeding posts in general here.
If you'd like to read more about my struggle with Postpartum Depression and how we need to release the stigma, click here> "Why The Shame Of Postpartum Depression?" Or click here to read my posts about PPD in general here.
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