Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy Hooter Days - Day 4

Nursing my little Chicklett with her new leg braces. Breastfeeding a triangle baby is an art form! Follow our story;

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Happy Hooters Days Day 3

Don't mind the huge mess :) 
Ella and I have such a special nursing relationship because of what it's taken to get here. We're still struggling with some issues but it's moments like this one, with her sweet self and perfect latch, that I know it's all worth it. :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Early Breastfeeding Obstacles - Visitors & Helpers

Problem: During those first few precious days of nursing a new mother often has many visitors. People who want to hold the baby, comfort their cries with rocking motions, give mom a "break" by holding him/her, etc. These things are all nice... but they can also cause a disrupt in that initial bond. That crying baby needs a boob 9 times out of 10, and if this visitor is in your home for an extended period of time they might be doing more harm than good.

Baby Chase spent his first weeks on my skin and on the breast!
Not in visitors arms or with a pacifier.
Solution: Make a postpartum plan, just like a birth plan, that outlines your wishes, limits, and expectations. Share this with everyone before the baby is born and after, please understand that the postpartum period is about YOU, BABY, and YOUR FAMILY, not visitors...they can wait. There is nothing wrong with asking visitors to bring food for the family, fold a load of laundry, and help out with household things so that you are better able to care for and bond with your baby. There is also nothing wrong with printing up a sign asking guests to wash their hands immediately upon arrival to your home and to limit visits to 30 minutes or less.

If this visitor is living in your home, you may need to have a frank discussion with them about the importance of bringing baby to the breast often. This may lead into unwanted advice about how you are 'spoiling' the baby or that they must be 'starving and you should use formula since they nurse so much', but we'll talk more about that later. One of the biggest culprits behind milk supply issues is the fact that baby is not permitted unlimited access to the breast and one reason that baby does not get this access is because mom has many visitors to entertain, share baby with, and she may not be comfortable nursing in front of them, even in her own home. So limit visitors and if baby wants to suck, don't give baby a pacifier so grandma or aunty or neighbor can hold the baby a little longer. Give that baby a breast and ask your visitor to bring you a glass of water and a snack.

Please make sure all your visitors know how committed you are to breastfeeding, ask THEM to leave the room if you or they are uncomfortable with nursing at that time. This is your time to bond with baby, you need lots of rest, water, and skin to skin time. Your guests can admire baby while baby is in your arms, and even at your breast! Baby is at his or her best in your arms in those first days anyway...that's where baby was meant to be. Accept help around the home, with older children, with meals...not with baby. Baby is your task these first weeks, developing a bond, establishing milk supply, and recovering from the birth. Newborns are boring anyway (or so they say) there will be lots of time as baby gets older for giggles, smiles, playing, and the like. For now, you need a hot meal, a jug of water, and quiet time with your baby.

Go forth, normalize, and educate,

Happy Hooter Days - Day 2

Baby Chase and I are very much enjoying nap time for Aiden, we can snuggle and nurse without interruption. I just happened to have done my hair and put on a smudge of make up...AND I tweezed my eyebrows so I don't look like a bush you get more than just my boob for today's Happy Hooter Days nursing picture! 

I'm pretty sure this sweet face makes the world go round...I love my little chunky nursling! Here he is in the throws of a milky coma!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Hooter Days - Day 1

The Good Letdown is NOT on vacation this week, watch for daily breastfeeding pictures (send us yours too) and the first in a series about early barriers to breastfeeding! 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Nursing during the holidays

The holidays can present a very special challenge for breastfeeding moms. Some mamas have no problems whatsoever nursing in front of their entire families and their families are supportive and loving about it. SOME...not all. With my first daughter, I was pretty bashful about nursing. I even ((gasp)) breastfed her in a bathroom once. I breastfed in a separate room from everyone else except my husband, mom and grandma and if I was out, I covered up and tried to hide. I was petrified someone would know what I was doing until Olivia was almost a year. Then I pretty much stopped caring.

Well, now Christmas is a few days away and among others, my brother and father in law will be here. Ella nurses...A LOT and I don't intend on missing out on all the Christmas fun just because I'm breastfeeding. So I'm going to stay out in the living room. I have thought about if I should cover or not because I AM in my own home and Ella is very particular about how she's held while she's eating. I've also been thinking about different things I can wear to help be a bit more discreet. I'm not really comfortable around my father in law and wouldn't feel completely comfortable nursing in front of him so I know I'll want some sort of discretion. I know, the hard core NIPers around the world are screaming at me. But let's face it, NIPing doesn't mean you can't cover, it just means that you're nursing in public, cover or no cover. It means you're feeding your child wherever and whenever they need it.

Anyways, I digressed. So we're right in the holiday season and honestly, we probably could have brought this topic up a bit sooner considering celebrating happens throughout the month of December and really, starts in Thanksgiving but come on guys, give us a break--we all just had babies! :) So, what can we do to during the holidays? I thought how neat it would be to have a bunch of tips and hints about breastfeeding during the holidays and then I realized, I'm not an expert and since this is my first year of consciously thinking about how to handle it, I'll just write about my current thoughts and experience. I plan on breastfeeding Ella in my living room. Will I cover up? Maybe. I will probably have a blanket near me. I'm not going to mention it to anyone or announce that I'm about to breastfeed so they can leave if they want, I'm just going to feed her as needed. If someone makes a comment about it, I will simply tell them that Ella's eating and be very nonchalant about it--as I'm sweating inside. Am I nervous about my newfound NIPing self? Sure I am, however I believe that normalizing breastfeeding is super important and I intend on starting with my family on Christmas Day.

Good luck everyone! We'd love to hear your hints for the holidays and breastfeeding, as well as your experiences with it. The good, the bad and the jolly!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Breastfeeding at home

Let me just start this blog post by saying that Ella is FINALLY HOME!!! Woot! After 74 LONG but short (NICU moms, you get it) days in the hospital, she's home with us and we couldn't be more thrilled. 
Ella at home <3
She came home yesterday (12-17), 1 day after her due date. As soon as we got home, she was screaming to eat. She'd breastfed before we left the NICU but only briefly because she was really futzing around at the boob. I had a lot of concerns that when we got home, she would do the same things she did at the NICU, which was breastfeed off and on and need bottles. But here's what I've discovered--when you're at home, and with baby around the clock, baby will take your boobie. Well, my baby will. Please keep in mind my post is about my baby and not all encompassing of all NICU babies in the world. :) 

Anyways, we got home and she ate right away. And has continued eating. I am breastfeeding on demand and offering her my breast anytime she starts fussing. She has already learned that she can just snack if she wants or get a nice full feeding. When she was in the NICU, they had her on a strict every-3-hour feeding schedule with full feedings. Now, most of us know that most breastfed babies do not necessarily eat every 3 hours. Sometimes they do...then they'll eat every hour. Or every 4...or every 30 just depends. Many breastfed babies are not consistent. Ella personally tends to cluster feed in the evening. 1.5-2 hours of breastfeeding off and on, off and on. Today though, she did that earlier in the day and right now is sleeping peacefully. 

We've really only had two issues so far with breastfeeding at home. Our first full 24 hours, she had foamy greenish yellow poop which I think was cause by my overactive letdown and oversupply. We'd never gone a full 24 hours of straight breastfeeding so it was a first for the both of us. Ella also only likes my left breast. She will very rarely take my right breast. I'm hoping she'll get over that but for now, I'm pumping that breast a few times a day.

Sorry I have no breastfeeding pictures to share with this blog post, but I will share them later as I get them! 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Vomit Volcano

Yep, me with another post about vomit. Maybe it will become my trademark. Ha! Okay, let's hope not actually.

So, let me preface this by saying we have the worlds most laid back pediatrician in the whole world. Like... annoyingly laid back. I could probably go in with one of my children having a broken arm and she would say it was totally normal and all kids go through that phase. About a year ago I actually noticed that she wasn't really even examining my son during the well check - like she never listened to his heart or looked in his ears. Kind of basic, right? That being said, we've tried to switch... but she's the only pediatrician that hasn't given me grief about breastfeeding, co-sleeping, or who hasn't tried to damage my child by retracting foreskin. In fact, as far as I know... she doesn't even know we do or don't do any of these things because she's never asked! About 6 months ago we switched back to seeing her, and just settled that it was a close convenient place to get our children weighed and measured.

Anyway, back to the barf. So, both of my children have done the same thing... so it is "normal" to us. But just incase I'm missing something I'd like to poll the web. I feel like this happens because my children are comfort nursers (meaning they want to suckle even when they're not hungry) and I have an overactive letdown (I mean... REALLY overactive... I need to wear breastpads past the babies first birthday...). So, those two things mean that my children end up eating a lot even when they're not hungry.

What happens is when baby get sat up for burping or just so I can move, she starts sounding real juicy with breathing. Then she'll fuss around a little bit, so I'll try to burp her longer. And atleast once a day it ends with a vomit volcano faucet for 5-10 seconds by her just opening her mouth and letting it go. It's fresh uncurled breastmilk, and not projectile. Just pours out like a faucet. I remember when we asked our pediatrician about it, she said it was normal and that all babies spit up. She told us to imagine pouring an ounce of liquid on the counter. It would spread out everywhere and seem like a lot of liquid, even though it was just an ounce. My son eventually outgrew it, and I imagine my daughter will do the same. Neither one ever excessively cried or seemed upset about it like a child who was suffering with reflux. And it is generally just once or twice a day, not after every feeding. So, I just let it go.

The second way that this happens is when my baby's were trying to grunt out some poop too soon after having a full meal. It was like the pressure from their pushing went both ways. Oops!

Am I missing anything important here? Or is this just what is normal for our family? I know I could be better about not letting my babies comfort nurse on me, so I guess that is an obvious test to know if my theory is correct. Let me just add... that if a picture says a thousand words... this girls thousand rolls show that she is healthy and gaining weight;

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Toddlers, Breastmilk, and Why I Won't Tandem

So all three of the TGL toddlers are receiving breastmilk. Mother Hen is tandem nursing, Mama Christa is giving Olivia pumped milk and HOPING she'll go back to the tap when Ella gets home, and I am giving Aiden pumped milk daily. But why do our toddlers get breastmilk? Why are Mama Christa and I going to the trouble to give our big kids breastmilk when they don't take it from the tap? Well, breastmilk is awesome...why else?! 2 year olds still benefit from the perfect human milk proteins, the over 200 amazing substances that have been identified in human milk, the purity, and most of all THE ANTIBODIES! It is, afterall, cold and flu all three of our households have been ransacked by stomach flus and head colds over the last two weeks or so.

As a mommy I feel the need to protect my child from severe illness in any way possible...did you know that if you are breastfeeding and someone in your house gets sick, within ONE HOUR your body has developed antibodies to the virus/bacteria and those antibodies are already in your milk? This protects your nursling(s) from getting the illness. It doesn't mean your child will never get sick, but it does mean your child will get sick less often and the illnesses will be less severe. In humans, one of the top ways that viruses and bacteria get into our bodies is through the digestive tract. This is why exclusive breastfeeding protects infants from serious illness, it coats their virgin gut with the good stuff, antibodies, good bacteria, healthy mucous. What is the Virgin Gut?

"When babies are born, they have sterile gastrointestinal tracts. If babies are exclusively breastfed, they develop a natural healthy gut flora. (When I speak of the gut, I mean Baby's insides where the food goes until it hits the diaper.) This means that the major flora in breastfed babies has reduced numbers of bad types of bacteria and increased numbers of good bacteria. Formula-fed babies have increased numbers of bad bacteria, leaving them at more risk for illness"

Additionally, it's interesting to know that the introduction of formula, even just one little 2oz bottle not only interferes with the establishment of a good, solid milk supply (we'll talk about this delicate balance later on) it can change the pH levels of the baby's gut, and it takes 6 weeks for those levels to return to normal! This pH and Virgin Gut theory are the primary reasons behind why formula fed babies are at a higher risk for illness, especially severe illnesses. This is why breastmilk saves lives.

But that's BABIES right? Well, sure it is, but doesn't it stand to reason that an older child would benefit from the antibodies and the more than 200 substances found in that liquid gold? Not to mention, it's even being used to treat and CURE cancer in adults...won't our toddlers benefit from whatever it is that is killing cancer cells? This isn't in cow's milk, or goat's milk, or soy, rice, almond milks. It's in HUMAN milk...substances in HUMAN milk protect human infants and children from illness. Amazing.

Olivia receives almost exclusively pumped milk every day. For one thing, Mama Christa has an abundance of milk to give Olivia...for another, she's a petite child, was premature herself, and needs to stay healthy and strong when Ella comes home. Additionally, have you ever thought about how EXPENSIVE milk is these days?! I know our DHA fortified, organic milk costs more than a gallon of why not save some cash and give the kids some breast milk?

Aiden gets breast milk daily as well, but it is about half  and half compared to cow's milk, but he's getting it. Today he's ONLY getting breast milk because he had a nasty stomach flu yesterday and I'm trying to give him the easiest to digest stuff and take good care of his tummy.

Are you into organic? What's more organic that unprocessed BREAST milk ladies?! Nothing. That's what.

NOW, on to why I prefer that Aiden NOT get his breast milk from the tap. I fully support Mother Hen and Mama Christa in their tandem nursing, not just because they are my friends and I support them no matter what (yes, I would support them even if they were bottle feeding or formula feeding) but because I think that it's good for young children to continue to receive breast milk for the reasons listed above. Personally, however, I get overstimulated and "touched out" as it is by dealing with both boys...especially when Chase is nursing. I do great if Chase is nursing and that's all that's going on, but more often than not, Aiden is also climbing all over me and it would blow your mind the level of anxiety all this clamoring and touching causes me. If I had two children breastfeeding, I'm pretty sure I would LOSE MY MIND. Is this weird? To some, probably, but I'm an abuse survivor...I get touched out, and overcooked in  A LOT of different situations. Part of me, the emotional, I know tandem nursing is a good thing part, would really like Aiden to take up a liking for nursing so I could nurse them both...BUT...1: Aiden is a BIG kid, 30lbs and 3 feet tall, he doesn't need to be on me ok? and 2: that's too much touch for breast would constantly be in SOMEONE's mouth and I"m not cool with that.

Many people wonder why you would nurse a toddler, and why you would tandem. I think the reasons are plain as day when you look at all the wonderful things in and about breastmilk, it really is easier to get it from the tap, so just do it that way. Many people say "I think it's great you tandem nurse/nurse an older child but I would never do it" but what's their reason...usually it's because it actually skeeves them out. Seriously, let's be honest, if you aren't an extended/tandem nurser...deep down, is it because it skeeves you out?! that's usually what's behind that statement, and often people only say the "I think it's great" part because they don't want to make the mom feel bad. Guess what, I'm on to skeeves you out, and you know what...THAT'S OK TOO!! The fact is, around infant feeding/toddler feeding, we need to be supportive of other moms, even when they are not supportive or are skeeved out by what we do. The fact is, you don't know most people's motivations, even if you think you do! Part of the reason Aiden and I ended our nursing relationship early was because I didn't know how to/couldn't handle feeling exposed, used, and WAY overtouched when he started getting screwy at the breast...I couldn't handle it with a toddler for sure. :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I've been hiding while nursing...

...I've been hiding... from my toddler! Since switching to nursing Chicken Little on demand he seems to think that he needs to nurse as often as the baby does (which is all the time...). For a while I was telling him that it was Chicklett's turn and that he could have a turn later, but now he's started to push her off of me and say that she is "all done." Couple this new attitude along with the fact that our normally sleeping 12-hours straight at night toddler has started waking more often than the baby and you've got one tired mama! So... I started trying to cover up and hide while nursing Chicklett. Break out the Udder Cover! Ha!

I'm not sure why I don't want him to nurse all the time - but something instinctual is telling me to limit him, and you should listen to your instinct. Other tandem mothers I know limit their nursing toddlers by only letting them nurse for a minute or two, but CL seems to be even more upset then because Chicklett will nurse for longer. We seem to be better off with him getting none at all until I'm in a position to let him have a full session.

On a side note - we believe his new sleeping issues is because of a sinus infection. We've never had one before, but upon complaining to girlfriends about his smelly breath a light has gone off in ye ol' brain.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The challenges of preemie breastfeeding

You know how when you have a baby and you bring them right to breast and it's all wonderful and sweet?

Well I don't! 

However, I did think that once my preemie started breastfeeding that BAM! we'd be good to go. I didn't know that she might breastfeed once...then not do it again the next time, or for days at a time. No one TOLD me this. So when this happened to me, I felt SO frustrated! I tried to hold onto the fact that she COULD do it and I knew that. But each time that Ella wouldn't latch on or would fall asleep at the breast or even worse, would decide that the ugly green curtain behind us was far more interesting then mamas breasts, my heart broke just a little bit. Each time she didn't breastfeed, the nurses would reassure me that it was perfectly normal for preemies to do that. I should not actually say that no one told me that preemie's aren't consistent with breastfeeding. When we got to the NICU, we were given an inch thick packet of information. Yup, I sure did read that. Uh huh. What with all the dying preemie worry I had as well as the 2 year old with major separation anxiety. You betcha. 

So, once Ella started breastfeeding I was soooo many of you may remember from my original post Breastfeeding Success back in October. She breastfed three days in a row so I thought we were set. Dreams of disappearing NG tubes danced in my head. But then I was rejected. This inconsistency happened for a LONG time. WEEKS. It was very disheartening. I didn't stop trying, I didn't stop pumping and I didn't stop hoping for the day when Ella would breastfeed more then once in a single given day. 

I found some information that I thought was really great for preemie breastfeeding. I URGE you to share this information with anyone you know who has or is facing having a premature infant. 

I also urge you to check out Dr. Sears book "The Premature Baby Book". I am currently reading this book and I swear, it could be called "The Premature Baby Book for Mama Christa and Ella". 

PS. Ella DID start consistently breastfeeding eventually...but that's a blog post for another day. 

Testing Out The Bottle...

It's been trial and error this week with trying to get 7-8 week old Chicklett to take a bottle so that I can have an evening off here and there, and because I'll be having surgery in a few weeks and we want to make sure she'll be fed during the process. We're nice like that. Ha!

I'm a firm believer in drinking straight from the tap, and if I'm going to be gone a few hours I will pump a fresh bottle rather than using frozen. The frozen stash is for extended periods or emergency only.

So far I've gone to the grocery store three times leaving her home and she has yet to take a bottle! Ugh! The first time she actually slept the whole time so Rooster wasn't even able to try it out. But the next two times I've come home to a screaming hungry baby. We've tried two different nipples so far, both Gerber and they fit our glass bottles - what do you recommend for breastfed babies? We've used the one in the picture and then just a standard one that came with the bottles.
large image
One thing I have enjoyed about bottle training Chicklett versus the first time around with Chicken Little is that there is no milk waste! CL is happy to take the pumped milk in a sippy cup! I remember being heartbroken at dumping pumped milk where CL had maybe drank an ounce out of the 4 in a bottle. Pumping is very hard for me, takes about 2-3 pumpings to get a 4 ounce bottle. Knowing that CL is here to clean up the leftovers makes this time much easier.

Now, I know that Meghan and Mama Christa have both given their toddlers pumped milk - does that mean we're all technically tandem nursing? I'm just the only one that does it straight from the tap. During this cold and flu season have you ever thought of giving your toddler/child a booster shot of antibodies and immunities by giving them some pumped milk? Think about it! :)

Enjoy this little video of my son exploring a world of boob in a sippy cup.

We're also working on the pacifier training too. With CL we used a paci from about 4 months old to 11 months old - but only in the car and occasionally overnight. Chicklett has been an absolute nightmare in the car, so she's gonna need that car paci. Pulling over, taking her out of the car seat, nursing her, and getting her back in the car seat in freezing weather is not going to happen. Not to mention, during warmer fall weather this proved ineffective anyway because 2 minutes back into driving she would be screaming again. Rather than leave her to scream I would much rather let her have the comfort of something to suck on. CL often used it to suck on for just a few minutes and then he'd fall asleep. Much healthier experience if you ask me! So far we've tried 4 different paci's with Chicklett. All of them gagging her. I remember it taking some time for CL to figure out how to use them, so for now I will keep retrying the different types we have and hope that she figures it out soon.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Guest Blog: Why Exclusively Pump?

While the answer seemed obvious to me I quickly learned that this was a question that surfaced to many people’s minds when they learned that I exclusively pumped for my daughter Camille. First the insurance company initially refused to cover my hospital grade pump because when they asked why I pumped I gave the wrong answer. Inability to latch and low supply are not insurance worthy reasons to pump. We don’t have a lot of extra money so we thought it was worth trying harder to get coverage. Insurance companies used to cover pumps more liberally but lately they have become much more discriminating as to who truly needs to pump and who doesn’t. My insurance company covers the pump for infants with medical problems such as cleft lip or prematurity. Of course these infants need that extra help to get the breast milk they deserve BUT…Who chooses to pump for the pure enjoyment of it? The vast majority of EPers (exclusive pumpers) do so b/c they have to. Some full term babies don’t latch for whatever reason and some mothers have to go to work. Why are these reasons somehow less valid than cleft lip and prematurity? Bottom line is that all of these babies need their mother to pump in order to get breast milk. Well, I was pretty determined and I don’t know how I EVER found the time or energy to do this going on basically no sleep but with a lot of calls to different people I finally did get the insurance to cover my wonderful hospital grade pump.

Another source of questioning came from my in-laws, specifically my mother-in-law. Now I’m not knocking mother-in-laws and many are wonderful additions to the family but my mother-in-law hates me. No kidding, she has made it pretty clear that she doesn’t like me but I’m still married to her son so she’s going to have to deal. Anyway, she hated that I exclusively pumped and was constantly recommending that I switch to formula. I told her how important it was to me that Camille get breast milk and all the reasons why I pumped but if anything that made her more set against it. I’m not sure exactly why it bugged her so much, maybe she thought I was showing her up b/c she gave her son formula even though she didn’t have any latching or supply problems at all, but it just unnerved her that I was pumping. She enlisted the help from the women in her family and her hairdresser to try to get me to switch to formula. When my husband and I visited that first Thanksgiving with our brand new daughter they all tried to persuade me to switch to formula. They undermined the benefits Camille was getting and gave me absolutely no credit for all the hard work I put into making sure Camille got the best food. One of them actually said “weird” when I explained what I had to do. The hairdresser, also a NURSE, told me that the benefits of breast milk were only in the first couple of days. Does she think I’m stupid? Also, how mean! That was the short period of time Camille was actually on formula due to my low supply. Now I’m not sure if the hairdresser knew this but how hurtful to say all my work was for nothing b/c the one time Camille needed it I couldn’t give it to her. Of course I know better and I was shocked a nurse would give me mis-information just to undermine me. The question “why are you pumping” quickly morphed into the demand “you should just switch to formula b/c pumping is worthless.”

Why pump? Even the most superficial research over breast milk will give you many reasons why breast milk is the perfect food for babies. (Research also shows that this benefit is amplified with premature babies. Babies that are, as a group, probably less frequently breastfed than term babies due to latching problems actually benefit more from breast milk.) I was determined that my daughter, Camille, get these benefits. She was a very high strung little baby and refused to latch. She hated nursing and would scream continuously every time I tried to nurse her. Even if she did latch I think pumping would have been more practical in the beginning b/c she ate such small amounts at a time. For many months she would eat every hour or more and then usually not more than an ounce. The most she would eat at a time was at night and it was usually 2 ounces. We suspected acid reflux was at the root. It was actually easier to pump larger amounts fewer times a day than to breast feed her for little spurts 20 times a day! My little girl was not premature but there were in-utero problems. I had preeclampsia and there was an unknown length of time (probably several weeks) where she was not getting nutrition from the placenta. She had stopped growing and was small for her gestational age. I was heartbroken. After she was born people frequently commented on how small she was and said she looked like a preemie. One woman walking by at the store said “look at that baby! It doesn’t even look real. It looks like a toy.” It cut me to the quick to hear that. If I could give this tiny person a special gift that would last her a lifetime and for which there could be no substitute I would. And I did.

I’m proud to say that with the exception of several bottles of formula the first few weeks, my daughter ate exclusively breast milk the first five months of life and after that breast milk with a slowly increasing amount of solids. For the first 7 months I pumped 8 times a day, then I tapered down to 6. At 11 months I was down to four. After 12 months I pump a few times in the evening after my husband’s home and Camille’s in bed. At 12 months I introduced cow’s milk but she still gets breast milk. Although now, at 16 1/2 months, she’s down to two ounces of milk a day. Even though it took a lot of pumping to establish a supply in the beginning (my body had turned off due to the preeclampsia) I eventually produced more than she was eating. I would adjust my pumping to keep more in line with her appetite. I wouldn’t pump less frequently b/c I tried to mimic her eating frequency as much as was practical. (Nursing/pumping duration, spacing, and frequency modulate fat levels in breast milk) Instead I pumped one breast instead of two and lessened the amount of pumping at night. I didn’t store milk other than saving extra milk in the fridge for up to a week. There were several reasons why I decided not to freeze my milk. One reason is I believe strongly in the La Leche League mantra that supply will keep up with demand. I was never worried about losing my supply again b/c all I had to do was pump extra if Camille began to eat more. Within a couple of days my supply went up to meet her needs. A lactation consultant also gave me this very valuable piece of advice: milk production increases the most between 1 and 5 am. If I pumped an extra time in that window it had a bigger impact on my supply than if I pumped several extra times during the day. If Camille was especially fussy and high maintenance one day and I just couldn’t find many chances to pump, I’d have my week’s worth of stores in the fridge. Another reason is that freezing destroys some of the beneficial components of breast milk. So it wasn’t necessary and it was not as good of milk (although still very good to all those who do freeze their milk). It just wasn’t worth the extra hassle. If I had a bit more time and a bit more sleep (i.e., if Camille was an easier baby) I would have frozen my milk to donate to milk banks—definitely keeping this in mind for next time.

There is no question that exclusively pumping is a pain in the butt! You don’t get any of the bonding pleasure associated with nursing—I mean you’re hooked up to a machine. My daughter was colicky and chronically over-tired (some days she got as little as 9 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period—not including the few 10 minute naps she’d sneak in). Do what I could, I couldn’t make her sleep. But I could control what she ate so while her sleep problems made things more difficult they motivated me even more to pump. With her fussiness and sleep issues it was difficult to find good times to pump during the day when my husband was at work. We have no family in the area so I ended up hiring a low cost nanny to watch Camille a few hours during the day. For the first six months she would come for three hours two-three days during the week. Those were my easy pump days! I would pump once before my husband left for work, once when the nanny first arrive, once just before she left, possibly one more time before hubbie came home from work, once as soon as he arrived from work, one or two more times before bed, and once in the middle of the night. When Camille and I were alone together and there was no one else there to watch her, I would put her in her bouncy seat while I pumped. We’d play with toys, sing songs, or just chit-chat. If she got fussy I’d turn on a vacuum I placed near-by and that magically soothed her. Sometimes she’d even go to sleep while the vacuum was on. In order to get the hind-milk I would always pump both breasts for 15 minutes. Often there would be two let-downs during one session.

I’m proud of what I’ve done for my daughter and when she’s older I’ll be happy to let her know she was breastfed. Of course, many mothers would have opted to use formula and that decision does not make you a bad mother! Everyone’s family situation is different. Perhaps some women would think that the stress of pumping and time spent doing it would impair their ability to enjoy and engage with their baby. I can definitely understand this but for my situation, pumping was the best for both me and my daughter. All of the support I received made it possible for me to keep my sanity while I pumped. I know a few other mothers who exclusively pump(ed) and I’m advising a long distance friend on the matter. Her daughter is 5 months now and she’s still an EPer! Other moms have praised my pumping so I knew there were people out their who appreciated what I was doing. Every little compliment or word of acknowledgment helped me to feel good about what I was doing. There is also a wonderful yahoo community of EPers that a fellow EPer introduced me to. Knowing other EPers and visiting this online community let me know that I wasn’t alone and that my way of doing things was not “weird” at all. For my baby shower my aunt gave me The La Leche League’s Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. Whenever I was tempted to give up pumping I just read this book’s section on the benefits of breastfeeding. Almost all of these benefits (and it is a long list) apply to expressed milk as well as nursing. Most important of all was my husband’s support. He was always hugely supportive of my decision and bragged on the good quality food Camille was getting. He also told me that if I decided to go to formula instead that would be okay too. He was behind me 100% and he let me know that he was aware of the benefits of EPing AND its difficulties. Without all this support, especially from my husband, I couldn’t have done it. Several mothers I met at ECFE (I think there were about three) also had latching/supply problems. They said they tried to EP in the beginning but their husbands persuaded them to stop b/c it took too much time or for some other reason. I think lack of support was the ultimate factor behind these women’s decisions to switch to formula. So if it’s something you want to do tell people how important it is to you and get as much support as you can. Remember, the benefits of breast milk last a lifetime. You can never undo that.

Friday, December 10, 2010

And the random winner of the nursing necklace is.....


I used and put in the number of votes. From that, randomizer chose a random number which correlated with the comment. Does that make sense? Just know that it was totally random and not biased! :)

Anyways, Rene, please email your address so we can send you your nursing necklace!! Please email us by Thursday Dec. 16 to claim your super fabulous prize!! 

Stay tuned for next month when we'll have our next giveaway!!! 

Thanks for playing everyone! 

Body Image Part 2: Body Battles

As I was changing the profile picture on my facebook today, I hesitated. It was a new picture of me at the hospital with Ella, wearing her in my sling. I look at my face and I saw how much it had widened with the 56 pounds I gained during pregnancy. The width of my waist. The size of my arms. My heart clenched and all I could think was how fat I looked. How my post-pregnancy body looked like that of a sumo wrestler in training. I didn't want to share this picture with everyone because then they would see how...gasp...FAT I was.

Last month, Meg wrote about nursing and body image. I could relate to her post, not because I felt bad about my breasts but because I feel about every square inch of my skin. There isn't a body part I can't complain about. Believe me, I'm a professional hater of my own body. And it's exhausting. It's exhausting to focus on how much I dislike my body and it affects my relationship with my husband AND my kids. It affects my nursing relationship, even though I try not to let it. When I lift my shirt, I see my stomach, and the rolls I have. If I take my shirt off and I'm just wearing my nursing tank top, I think about how big my arms are and wonder if people are looking at them. When I'm looking down at my daughter while we're nursing, I think about my double chin. I'm's sick. I think about nursing in public after Ella comes home and I WILL do it because I believe that my baby shouldn't be forced to wait to eat, but I fear not so much the looks of people because I'm nursing in public but because of my heft.

Prior to pregnancy, I lost almost 40 lbs and I went from an 18/20 to a small size 14. I was really feeling good about myself but with this pregnancy, I was nauseas the entire thing and carbs were the ONLY thing that helped. Then I got PIH which later turned into severe preeclampsia and oh my God, did I gain. I gained about 25 lbs of water retention in a few weeks. At the end, I was gaining sometimes 3 or 4 pounds a a matter of hours sometimes! One day, while in the hospital, I gained 4 lbs in 12 hours. I have new stretch marks and loose skin from the rapid weight gain. It just adds more fuel to my abusive relationship I have with my own body. While I've lost almost 30 lbs of the weight I gained during pregnancy, I still have a long way to go and the loose skin isn't going anywhere without plastic surgery. I have some big girls in my family and it's a constant battle against brownies and genetics to not blow up.
Ella and I getting ready for our first walk in the ICC
This is a really difficult thing to write about. It's easy to hide behind an armor you put up, calling yourself fat so that someone else won't do it but to come right out and admit that it's how you truly feel and how you truly see yourself as well as just how much it affects your life is very difficult. I just hope that as I work through these issues, even if I never get back down to what I was pre-pregnancy or smaller as is my goal, I won't let it negatively affect my nursing relationship with Ella or worse, my relationship with my 2 girls, and later on their own image of themselves. I constantly worry about how my own body image will affect them emotionally and psychologically. It's something I know I need to work on.

What's your battle with body image and nursing, or even not nursing, just body image in general?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

How do you Like Our Logo?!

Congrats to Jennifer! She won by ONE vote! Jennifer will be getting a nursing necklace as her prize, we'll post a picture of it before it goes to Jennifer! Thanks to all our entrants!

As hoped, this first contest/giveaway has brought us more followers, about 17 in just the last week! Thank you SOOO much for joining us! Mama Christa is going to do the random drawing from the voters for another nursing necklace sometime today and I'll update you all with the winner when she does!

For now the logo will be up without it's background...we're trying to make the background go on the blog as our background image. Thanks to everyone for participating and for being a reader! Stay tuned and watch for our next giveaway in January!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Guest Blog: You're Doing A Real Great Job...

I had an eye-opening experience a couple of months ago. My Husband and I took our daughter Hailey and her friend to a church harvest carnival at a church that we had never been to. I figured it would be a great way to spend some quality time as a family. I wore my then 2 week old son Cohen in my Moby wrap. A couple of hours into the event, he’s hungry. I had never breastfed at such a large event in front of so many people and I felt unsure of how to go about it. I found an almost-empty warehouse with chairs setup, but it was playing very loud music and someone swiped the only couch from my eyes before I could physically claim it. My Husband and the girls were on their way to another building to get food so I decided I would follow them and attempt to find a comfy spot to nurse.
When I found him and the girls, there was no such luck in the comfort department. But there were chairs and tables, so I [purposefully] chose a table in the back out of main view. I discreetly nursed Cohen for 30 minutes or so. Now, I know that nursing in public is seen as taboo by many unless Mom confines herself to a dirty bathroom, a cramped car, or covers herself and her little one with a blanket or nursing cover. However, I don’t see anybody else eating their meals in a bathroom, I don’t think many people would eat in their car if it was uncomfortable for them to do so, and I don’t see the logic in a breastfeeding Mother covering a natural act so that someone else won’t be offended. My outlook is: if it bothers you, look away. So, I fed my son.
I'm sitting in the back of the room, giving my son the nourishment that Nature and God allow me to. Giving him what the WHO, the AAP, and countless other organizations and individuals recommend for Mothers to do for all of the health benefits that it provides. While I am nursing, you cannot see any more than you would on the street, at the beach, or on the covers of those useless magazines so many people read (and those who find them offensive simply DON’T READ THEM, right?). Maybe you can even see less unless you’re standing above me, seeing what I see, which nobody is.
Toward the end of Cohen’s meal, I see a lady coming my direction out of my peripheral vision. She gets my full attention by forcefully patting my shoulder. I swing back to look at her and I smile. She touched my shoulder with such force, I thought maybe I knew her. She starts off by telling me ‘You’re doing a real great job”… and then goes on to say “of offending everyone in this room and making everybody feel uncomfortable. Everybody is staring.” She lets out a nervous giggle. I look around and nobody is staring. I politely tell her I don’t mind, it’s a natural act. Nothing to be ashamed of, right? As she’s walking away, she stops and agrees with me while also contradicting her agreement and repeating herself about how uncomfortable everyone in the room is (when in reality, she was the only one obviously uncomfortable and the only one who couldn’t manage to look away since it bothered her). So I state the obvious and tell her “I’m simply feeding my baby. He’s hungry.” She walked away, while staring over our way as she was gathering her things and her children (yes, she is a Mother).
I wish I would have had some valuable information on the tip of my tongue for this woman. I wish I would have been prepared for something like this. She is obviously misinformed and thinks that somehow my baby eating from my breast is sexual, or offensive. She is like many others, in this country especially, who have misinformation and backward images of what feeding a baby should look like. The bottle is not natural. The breast is. Breasts have been made to be so sexualized, that people are viewing feeding a child offensive. How is me, filling my child’s belly with food, making sure he sustains LIFE offensive? Because I do it with a part of my body that television & pornography have turned into a completely sexual image? You do have the right to feel that way if you choose. You can feel however you want. But in feeling that way, you are choosing to be ignorant, you are choosing to be misinformed, you are choosing to be offended and you’re choosing to continue to be offended by looking.
There are many things that I would rather not see and experience, as well: Cigarette smoking, women in very revealing clothing, old men with massive amounts of curly hair sticking from every which way of their shirt (if they’re even wearing one)… but the difference between those things and breastfeeding is this: necessity. Is it a necessity for you to smoke in public and subject everyone else to the health hazard? Breastfeeding is not a health hazard. It is the opposite. I don’t have to stand in your cloud of smoke, inhaling something I don’t like, while scolding or shaming you for it. Is it necessary to dress so revealing? No, but I can look away if I don’t like how you dress. I know that it’s done for the wrong kind of attention and vanity, not out of necessity. Can you wear a shirt that doesn’t have your chest and back hair pop out of every which way? Yes, but it’s your right if you don’t want to and although it’s not necessary for you to wear that shirt, I can just as easily look away. So not only do you have the right to do all of these things and more, which might personally affect me in some way and even have adverse health effects on me and my family, you get to do those things without there being a necessary reason to do so with much less of a chance that someone will come up to you and shame you for them or shoot an obviously nasty look your way.
The reason I said at the beginning that this was an eye-opening experience is not because I didn’t know some people would have a problem with seeing a breastfeeding woman. It's not because I didn’t know it was a reality that someone might ignorantly approach me, say something rude to me, or even to ask me (against the law) to leave an establishment. It is because I’ve had time to think about why. Why did this woman feel the need to not only approach me, but to approach me with such judgment and harshness? It comes down to a few things that I read here:
I have been changed by this experience. Not because I am going to refuse my child food in public or feel shamed when I choose to feed him wherever he happens to be hungry… the only way for people to understand that breastfeeding is not dirty or wrong, is for them to see it. Once people are exposed to this natural act enough, it can become normal again, as it was meant. What’s normal to you now is only normal because it’s what you know. It’s because I want to be sure that I don’t make anybody else feel like the woman here tried to make me feel. And I definitely don’t want to make anybody feel that way to make myself feel better.
This goes way beyond breastfeeding. This involves everyday life and what goes on around us. When we see someone who is dressed in clothing that we wouldn’t wear, what looks do we show on our face to express a feeling toward another person? How wide do our eyes get and how long do our stares linger? What do we whisper to our significant other or our friend next to us that might make that person feel completely horrible if they heard (or even just saw you whispering)? Does it make you feel good to belittle someone when they cut you off in traffic? Or for you to cut them off when they’re doing the speed limit and you don’t like it? Do you think twice before you act and ask yourself how your expressed opinion and actions might affect someone else? Most people don’t do this nearly as often as they should. I don’t want to be one of those people.
So thank you random, misinformed church lady, for reminding me of this. Instead of your attempts to shame and belittle me having a negative effect, they have done the opposite. They have reminded me of who I strive to be, how my actions have an impact on others and that I need to continue my journey in life while showing everyone that breastfeeding is natural and normal by nursing my baby in public.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Let the Voting Begin!

OK! It's time to vote on The Good Letdown logo! 

RULES: You must be a "follower" of the blog to vote, so if you read regularly and are not a follower to the right, then become a follower today and vote for your favorite. Finalists, this means you need to get your friends to be followers and vote for you as well!!! You have until Tomorrow at 11:59 to vote for your favorite logo and to get your friends to vote for your favorite logo. 

BONUS: A random drawing will be done among the voters, the lucky winner will receive a nursing necklace! 

LOGO 1 is from Carmen, who is a regular reader here on The Good Letdown and contributed a guest blog last month!

LOGO 2 is submitted by Jennifer another regular reader. 
"My name is Jen, and I'm the mother of 3 children.  My 2 former nurslings are Alexandra (6.5 yrs) and Matt (3 yrs).  Robert, my current nursling, is almost 4 months.  Nursing is such a passion of mine that I have recently decided to become a lactation consultant.  When I'm not nursing or chasing after kids, I dabble in photography, and graphic design.  I'm an avid reader, and can almost always be found with a book in my hand."

LOGO 3 comes from Kimmy! 
"My name is Kim (or Kimmy as I'm usually called) and I was recently turned into a Lactavist by a friend who happens to be a blogger here at TGL :) I have two beautiful girls - ages 3 and 6 months who are my heart and soul. I'm studying for Massage Therapy boards so I can work in the frozen tundra that is known as North Dakota...but for now, I'm a stay at home mommy :)"

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Binky Battle - Lost & Won

If you read my post about Rough Nights and Pacifiers you'll know already that I have been really struggling to keep pacifiers out of my house for a variety of reasons.

Today, I have a confession. Last week I broke down, and used a binky. The good news is that after a lot of second-guessing, wondering, and even bashing myself over this, I consider this battle both lost and won.

The battle is lost because I really didn't want to have to go down the binky path again. Aiden was binky OBSESSED and I believe it contributed to his early weening at just 8 months. He had his binky since birth and I overused it. I am a little paranoid about binky use was frustrating to always have with me, to re-bink in the middle of the night, and to have a baby who weened so young. I was afraid of this for Chase. The battle is lost because I also wanted to prove that I could have a comfort-nurser, that I didn't need to substitute a silicone nipple for my breast. It is lost because I was CONVINCED he would settle if I employed a few more calming tactics. The truth is: Chase will not let me put him down, and even when I'm holding him, he needs A LOT of cajoling to calm. He frequently will not take the breast for comfort because I have a forceful letdown and HE has silent unless the breast is "empty" he doesn't find it all that comforting...though boy does he try, he desperately wants to be a booby baby.

I had a very bad day last week...actually, a run of THREE very bad days during which both boys were in really bad moods and I was NOT handing it well. I couldn't get out the door to make it to appointments because Chase would not even stop flailing and crying even when I held him so I couldn't get Aiden ready to go, couldn't get Chase in his car seat, couldn't get the diaper bag was ugly, and I had a huge meltdown. A friend told me "Meghan, you have to give the baby a pacifier...because one way or the other you're going to feel like a failure. It's either going to be because you gave chase a pacifier for 15 or 20 minutes so you can get things together and have positive interactions with Aiden or because you never have positive interactions with Aiden on account of CONSTANTLY trying to sooth the baby in other ways." She was right...poor orphan Aiden has been needing much more than I am able to give him with the baby always in my arms. So I did it...I brought his car pacifier into the house for necessary use only.

I consider this battle WON because Chase still greatly prefers the breast, doesn't take the binky except SOMETIMES...even if I really want him to he often won't...but he takes it when I really NEED him to usually. It's use is infrequent...I still try to calm and sooth in other ways, but sometimes he just needs to suck a little and doesn't want milk so I give it to him and hold him close to me as if he's nursing which seems to be the only way he'll take it. Then once he's calm I can put him down, he usually spits out the binky, and he'll sit or sleep peacefully long enough for me to spend some time with Aiden or get something done (like write this blog post). I consider it won because he never takes it at night, still just wants to nurse more often than not, held more often than not, but I can buy myself little tidbits of time. I waited long enough to introduce the pacifier that he doesn't care about it, and I can just use it here and there.

The reality is I CAN'T hold and snuggle and bounce and shush this baby every waking minute and through most of his NON waking minutes either. I have a 2 year old who needs lots of positive attention from me and he was not getting this. I also CAN'T wear Chase in the sling or Moby wrap ALL day, though I do wear him a lot. The other reality is that the binky is not helping with his overall demeanor, he's still a pretty "high maintenance" one-month-old. Even using the binky, I've been interrupted writing this post about 10 times. So instead of trying to make this sound LESS disjointed, I'm going to trust my readers to just take it as it is so I can go and spend the rest of my day rocking and bouncing, and yes, occasionally "binking" the baby.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tandemville No More?

Well folks, it has been a rough three weeks with tandem nursing. It was one of those things that I didn't notice at first, and then it got really bad... really fast. I thought Chicken Little and I were done for sure. I talk a lot about barf in this blog... so pass on this one if you're easily grossed out!

As a baby he would occasionally have this brief moment while trying to latch where it was almost like a vacuum effect. If it was too soon after a previous nursing session he would end up spiting up. Very sad, but eventually it just went away. He was gaining weight and still nursing plenty, so I didn't worry about it. When he started solids at 6 months old he did seem to gag/choke on food more than "normal", but again we didn't worry because he was healthy. To this day he still chokes/coughs when drinking from a cup. I think he just has a sensitive gag reflex.

A month into tandem nursing after my daughter was born I assumed that things were golden. Both kids seemed happy, no engorgement for mama, and milk for everyone! In general my son was nursing 2-3 times per day; in the morning when he woke up, before naptime, and occasionally one other time during the day. For the morning and before nap I was consistently going just on schedule alone, it was something we have always done. He was only getting that third time in if he requested it.

In comes a surprise problem. About 3 weeks ago we were about to nurse before naptime and BAM... that same vacuum air dry heave action showed up and caught us both off guard. He ended up losing about half of his Culver's Butterburger that he had eaten for lunch... which was extra gross for me (the vegetarian mom). Eeew! I chalked it up to being a fluke, but really it was just the beginning of a downward spiral.

His dry heaving and gagging started showing up almost daily. Rarely would he actually spit up, and I think I was too busy trying to get back to my infant who was generally upset in another room while I was trying to give CL a little attention before naptime. Most of the time when he would spit up he would be able to keep it in his mouth. This dry heave would happen before he even latched on, and it got to the point where as soon as I sat down in our nursing spot and lifted my shirt he would gag. After gagging he would be upset and run away from me, but when I covered up to end the nursing session he would become even more upset and rush at me asking for boobies. If I gave him another chance, I would end up getting vomited on. Not knowing what to do, and wanting to rush back to my crying daughter, a few times my son got sleep with nothing more than a kiss. I could hear him crying for "boobies", but I was afraid and tired of cleaning up vomit so I denied him. My being distracted and not recognizing this as a problem let it escalate.

The night of Thanksgiving our son woke up around 4am with a soaked diaper. This hardly ever happens, but needless to say he was very upset. After his wardrobe and diaper change I nursed him to calm him down. And of course... he gagged. He was able to keep it down, and we put him to bed. About an hour later I wake up to find my husband changing our sons clothing again. Wondering what happened, I find out that he threw up all over his bed. I guess he wasn't able to keep it down after all.

Then the problem went a step further. My son asked for boobies (yes, he uses that word) and I took him into a back bedroom where we could get comfortable. As I was setting up the pillow for my back he started to dry heave. This was ridiculous! I hadn't even exposed myself yet and he was doing it. Worried that he would vomit on my bed I took his hand and brought him into his bedroom. He was very upset and probably thought that I was denying him nursing. He ended up vomiting up about 6 times all over the carpet. It was at this point that my husband walked in wondering why our normally quiet son was flipping out. He witnessed a few more vomits and decided that removing our son from the sight of me was the best thing to do. They went in a bathroom and eventually CL calmed down.

After that incident I started to lose spousal support. Rooster felt that our son was ready to be done and that my milk/boobs were grossing him out. I definitely thought about it. The easiest thing would have been to wean him, but the easiest thing is not always the right thing. I finally did what I should have done weeks ago... I asked my breastfeeding community for help. I contacted my Le Leche League leader and I posted a cry for help on every breastfeeding forum I belong to on BabyCenter and Facebook. The support and ideas came flooding in. Thanks so much everyone!!

Right now we are six days vomit free (knock on wood.) The summary of what I believed happened to us is that our nursing relationship was no longer relaxed because I was always trying to rush him so that I could get back to my daughter. I also changed from our schedule to just nursing on demand whenever he asked for it. Also, I started to nurse him while standing up... I am referring to it as "hamster style". He stands in his crib while I stand next to it. The constant eye contact, and just having a relaxed attitude has really seemed to help. Coincidently my daughter has actually started to nap during this time, so that makes it even easier. With these changes our nursing relationship has been saved.

So... lessen learned... ask for help from your community sooner rather than later! For now all is well in tandemville once again.