Saturday, December 31, 2011

I'll Show You Classy

So, the blog Combat Boots and Pointe Shoes decided to sarcastically call the mothers from the Target Nurse-in "classy." She also stated, "Personally I wondered if it was a bunch of women who don't shave their legs or armpits. You know the Granola girls...." Because, as we all know... only hippies breastfeed their children. ::face palm:: She goes on and on just digging the hole deeper on telling the Target Nurse-in folks that they were basically an embarrassment and shouldn't harass poor innocent baby Target. 

It's attacks like this from fellow breastfeeding mothers that I just don't get. They tell the other mothers to not stand up for their rights and just quietly take the tongue lashings from NIP harassing jerks. Seriously? If this were any other human or civil rights issue would you be telling the victims to just be quiet and go away? I highly doubt it. Why is it so easy for folks to pick on breastfeeding? 

And folks that are okay with breastfeeding "so long as the mother is covered." Seriously? Have you seen a mother nurse without a cover in person? You can't see anything! I think people have this vision of a mother going completely topless. It's so frustrating. Also, have you seen a mother trying to nurse while using a cover with a child that does not want to be covered? 

We all need to stop splitting hairs about how a mother should breastfeeding in public. You do it your way, and I'll do it mine. But we're all in the same group and are protected by the same laws. Mothers who get harassed are not showing as much skin as you probably assume. Some of them are under covers when they are harassed. Stop fighting each other and let's work together to change societies views.

And mothers who have not started nursing in public yet - being harassed is a rare thing. Don't let the thought of being harassed stop you from feeding your child in public. If the worst happens and someone does approach you in a negative way, the best thing that will happens is you will make a whole lotta new breastfeeding friends. Check out our NIP Harassment Survival Guide that has some great tips for IF it happens to you. I've been breastfeeding in public for three years and have never been approached negatively. 

Friday, December 30, 2011

It IS hard to cover up

It makes me batty when breastfeeding mothers battle against other breastfeeding mothers saying that "they cover and respect other people." What about being uncovered makes people believe that there is an act of disrespect going on? 99% of uncovered breastfeeding mothers hardly show any skin at all.

We're all just feeding our children and need to stick together. The women being harassed for nursing in public aren't just the rare ones that bare some extra skin. Even covered mothers are harassed.

Then there are folks that think the covered mothers are giving us a bad name. So long as mother and child are comfortable being covered, I feel to-each-their-own. For a brief time I had to cover because my daughter was a distracted nurser out in public. It was either use a cover or stay home. You don't know that mothers reason for using a cover... so don't judge. Give her a smile, thumbs up, and hand her a "thank you for nursing in public" card.

We're all in the same boat and need to stop pointing fingers at each other thinking that any one of us is superior to the other.

All that being said... I'd love to see some new "it's hard to cover up" videos. We like to do this every once in a while, just to show that not all kids like to be covered and also that without a cover you really can't see much anyway. Please make your video and either upload it right on our Facebook wall or put it on YouTube and post the link. We've had some funny great videos in the past.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Guest Blog: Brandy's Preemie Breastfeeding Story

I am the woman who has always said that I would nurse/give my child breastmilk until he was ready to wean. I did that. Sadly, it was not as long as *I* wanted to.

My son, Clark, was born at 30 weeks, weighing 2 1/2 pounds. He was tube fed starting at 9 days old, starting out with a whole .5mls of expressed colostrum. The thing I remember most after his birth was (from the operating room table) asking for the lactation consultant to bring me a pump. I kept asking and kept asking until, FINALLY, 4 hours later, a Medela Symphony showed up at my bedside. At that moment, it was the most beautiful thing in the room. (Clark was, of course, in the Neonatal ICU).

I remember being so excited about learning how the pump worked and finally getting to try it out. I pumped religiously, around the clock, every 2 1/2 hours. I met some of my best NICU mom friends in the pumping room, as we dragged in there with our bag of pumping accessories.

When Clark was 9 days old, he contracted pseudomonas sepsis, an obscenely deadly infection, from an infected ventilator. The same ventilator that was actually keeping him alive, go figure. Neither the doctors nor we knew if he was going to live or die. That's when my pumping schedule took a nosedive. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't do anything except worry about him. My husband and I moved into the Ronald McDonald house and we were so thrilled to see 3 huge deep freezers full of pumped breast milk for other babies whose parents lived there. I tried and tried but couldn't get back into my old pumping groove and my supply suffered.

He didn't "eat" for days following his illness, so of course, I was able to get ahead of him and build up a nice stash of milk. But, by the time he came home, almost 3 months later, he was slowly catching up to me. We tried and tried in the NICU to get Clark latched on, but he has what is called micrognathia, which is an undersized jaw. He never could get a decent latch and even at the moments we thought he might, he had no strength to nurse. So--I kept pumping.

He made it out of the NICU formula-free! A month after he came home, my supply had suffered so much that I ordered domperidone. It was a miracle worker for me and doubled my supply, which, in all honesty, barely helped me keep up with Clark. We kept trying and kept trying to nurse. Finally, when he was just over 6 months old, he was able to latch and nurse. However, he only had enough energy to weakly nurse for 5 minutes every hour and a half. By then, we were great friends with the LC's at the hospital and tried every method they could give us to get him to nurse normally, to no avail. Of course, he lost weight because he was getting no hind milk.

By that time, he was in treatment for his congenitally dislocated hip. When he was 8 months old (developmentally, and size-wise more like a 4 month old), he went on a nursing strike, never to return to the breast. I was crushed, there are no words to explain how badly I wanted to ditch my pump and nurse my baby. At 10 months old, he went into a body cast to set his hip into place and started refusing my milk all together. I had to resort to mixing my own milk with apple juice just to keep him hydrated. He was still exclusively (besides the juice) breastfed, and was nowhere near being able to eat food, so this was quite a predicament we were in.

As you can imagine, my supply tanked from that point on. He refused the breast, he refused my milk in a bottle, I was completely crushed. We tried everything we could do to get him to take my milk alone and nothing worked, we even tried donor milk. He was losing weight in a very bad way and we tried every milk you can think of, preemie formula (which he had never received before), goat's milk, cow's milk, heavy cream, yogurt. At that point, we were desperate. I continued to pump.

Finally, by the time he was 13 months, after 3 whole months of being refused, I decided to quit pumping. My guilt was palpable. I had my milk and donor milk in my freezer going unused, which I ended up donating to another pumping preemie mom who was short on milk.

But, I can say this. My son had my milk for the great majority of his first year. He was a healthy little preemie during that time and to this day, is still relatively healthy (aside from his weight, which is still an issue due to milk refusal.) He is incredibly smart and at 20 months old was using 4 word phrases. Breast milk helped him get where he is today. All babies are entitled to their milk, but especially preemies.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Uncharted Territory - Again

I don't know what I'm doing. I'm admitting it here on the world wide web.

When Christa brought Ella home she told me "I don't know what I'm doing, I've never nursed a newborn before!" Now, here I am, I'm approaching Chase's 1st birthday, still breastfeeding A LOT, and I realize I don't know what I'm doing. I only nursed Aiden for 8 months. I'm more than 50% farther along now...and I know things are a little different. I'm having a hard time knowing what "the rules" are for nursing a baby this age.

Rules? What? Since when does breastfeeding have RULES? That's ridiculous...but that's how I feel! I was so cautious about introducing solids, avoiding pacifiers, nursing on cue, and following his lead, working through a nursing strike, making sure I always offered the breast before foods...I was super nervous about getting it "wrong" because I did get it wrong with Aiden, I didn't want to do it again. I wanted to be sure we would make it past any bumps in the road. I was really having an internal struggle, and being just a bit neurotic.

Probably about a month ago I gave a detailed play by play to my girlfriends about how I was handling nursing and food and additional fluids. Told them I wasn't sure if I was doing the right stuff in the right order or what. They were very kind and reassuring. Thank goodness. Now, however, my brain is all rattled again... forward 2 months...I started this blog a few weeks before Chase turned 1 and I was all frazzled...but I wanted to share this unfinished post for a reason.

First of all, Breastfeeding doesn't have rules. I have long proclaimed the benefits of following your instincts and your child's cues when it comes to breastfeeding, doing what works well for you and whatever seems right. For some reason I was struggling with embracing this tactic in nursing my "Baby-toddler." Then one night I had a long conversation with Mama Christa during which I worked out my insecurities. At this age especially there are no rules...and I confirmed with her that I was overthinking the whole thing. This was like a switch going off. At this point I don't keep mental notes about how many times he has nursed, I just have a general perception about whether he has nursed "a lot" or "not much at all" and largely it doesn't concern me one way or another. This is a freeing place. Not paying attention is freeing. This is how nursing should be. Now I offer milkies and foods whenever he seems to want them and it's working. He's happy, I'm happy, and it's all good.

Second of all, we don't know it all here. We are all having new experiences in some arena or another...teeth, older nurslings, nursing on demand, day-time sippers...every child brings new experiences in all arenas and nursing is not any different. Over the last few months I have really embraced nursing not only as an important nutritional component in Chase's diet, but also as a critical parenting tool. Recognizing that nursing is a fluid, shifting, multi-purpose thing helps to relieve a lot of the "am I doing this right" anxiety that I think we have on our shoulders these days.

Third, if your baby is happy and healthy, there is no reason to worry about food, milies, diapers, weights...just go with it...your baby will let you know what he needs and you will know when he needs something more...even without a chart, mental log, etc. Why? Because you are the mommy, and if you shut off all the checklists, all the "what are the rules" and just let your intuition speak to you...You'll know what's up! That's how it is being a mommy!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Guest Blog: Do People Actually Still *Do* That? - Jen's Story

My first experience with breast feeding came in the office of my OB/GYN at a prenatal check-up nearly 8 years ago. I was 18 years old and had no idea what I was getting myself into. But as I lay there on the table while the doctor took his measurements, he asked me the question that would change the course of my life forever. "Do you plan on nursing? It's the best thing for your baby, you know." 

 That was the question that stopped the world spinning, if only for a moment. I remember thinking in my head Do people actually still do that? Looking back on that moment in time, I have to laugh. But the truth is... we live in a bottle feeding culture. And as it happens, I came from a bottle feeding family. My grandmother bottle fed all 4 of her kids. They were born in 1960's when formula was all the rage and only poor mothers fed from the breast. My own mother tried nursing me for a torturous 6 days in 1985. From her stories, I know that she and I suffered from a bad latch. But no one would help her. Doctors and nurses alike would tell her to "just keep trying" and lactation consultants were basically unheard at the time. She put me on formula on day 7 of my life and told me how I went from a "screaming, angry baby to a happy, smiling baby overnight." So when my sister was born 4 years later, my mother never even tried. 

So back to that moment in time. After the initial shock to my system, I looked at my doctor and said "Sure, I'll give it a try. I want to do what's best for my baby." Of course I did. Doesn't every mother? Interestingly enough, even with that in mind, I went home and really didn't give it any more thought. 

Fast forward a few months. My beautiful daughter, Maia, was born in June of 2004. I put her to the breast for the first time within an hour after she came into the world. There were 2 lactation consultants on staff as well as a couple of helpful nurses who really came through to get her latched on. We had a nice, strong beginning in the hospital and I am grateful for that. 

Going home was a somewhat different story. My milk came in on day 5. I was engorged and sore. I just wanted Maia to empty those poor, aching globes! She fed constantly, but it seemed like she couldn't keep up -- almost as if she were choking! And soon after each feeding, she would projectile vomit all over the room. I called the nurse's station at the hospital crying and asking if my poor daughter was allergic to my milk. Was formula the answer? Did I already fail at giving her what was best? The nurse kind of chuckled at my question. She assured me that this was normal. She told me I probably had what was called "over-active letdown." She recommended that I buy a small hand pump to empty just a bit of milk off the top and then offer the breast to Maia afterward. Miraculously, it really helped! Although it didn't eliminate the spitting up completely, it was now at much less alarming quantities! 

With this initial hurdle put behind us, I set myself a new goal. I was going to "try" to nurse to 6 weeks. It's amazing how quickly 6 weeks flies by. During this time we had very few issues, though I quickly learned that both Maia and I got a lot more sleep if we slept together. I became a believer in the power of co-sleeping for a nursing baby from a couple of weeks old on. After 6 weeks, I again set a new goal of 3 months. At 3 months I was going to be returning to work and college, so I would re-evaluate then.

Maia was 3 months old before I knew it. I went to a WIC appointment around this time and was made to feel like a complete superstar for making it that point with breast feeding and NO supplementation. I was encouraged to continue nursing even with my return to work and was given a double electric breast pump to help me express my milk for Maia to drink while I was away.

My return to school and work was very emotional for me. Although I was never away from her for more than 6 hours at a time, I missed her a lot. Luckily, my college campus had a room in one of the buildings set aside for nursing and pumping mothers, so I was able to express without an issue. I ran into very few issues at all from 3 months on. My 3 month goal became 6 months and then 6 months became a year. However, around the 9 month mark, I began noticing a substantial dip in my milk supply. I wasn't able to keep up with how much she was drinking and the freezer supply was dwindling. 

 About this time, I turned to a breast feeding community on Live Journal for some answers. The ladies of the group recommended that I increase my water intake and begin taking Fenugreek capsules to re-establish my milk supply. To my surprise, the suggestions worked -- and I didn't at all mind walking around smelling like maple syrup while on the supplements either! The Live Journal group became my saving grace through Maia's biting stage and plugged milk ducts and blebs. Soon enough, I'd reached my goal of 12 months. And like most breast feeding moms in this country... I weaned my daughter.

Okay. No I didn't. The truth there is... I got to 12 months and said, "What reason is there to stop now?" Over the course of a year, I'd learned that breast milk cures a lot more than hunger and thirst. It cures fear, anxiety, boo boos, sleeplessness and illness... among other things. What an amazing tool. What an amazing bond. My biggest challenge at this point was dealing with friends and family who loved to ask me constantly when I was planning on weaning. Most seemed confused and even sometimes disgusted that we would nurse past a year. The reactions got stronger the longer we nursed, but eventually -- the question stopped coming. People learned that they were not going to change my mind. Maia would wean when she was ready.

When Maia was 18 months old, she began staying overnight twice a month with her father. I was concerned this might make her wean prematurely, but she always came back to the breast and it was often the first thing she asked for upon returning home to me. Over time, twice a month became every other weekend for the full weekend. She did start to taper off and in frequency of nursings, but she still loved her "num nums." Then one weekend when she was 3 years, 7 months old, that changed. She returned from her dad's and did not ask to nurse. She did not ask that night. Or the next day. Or for four days after that. On the fifth day, I knew. She had weaned herself with no help from me. My baby was a big girl now. 

I cried. I cried like a baby. I cried for a long time in mourning the end of this stage of my little girl's life. And then I rejoiced that she was given the opportunity to decide when she was ready to let go and take the next step into independence. It's a choice the vast majority of children, in this country especially, will never get. This is not to say anything negative about the mothers who don't buy into child-led weaning. It's not for everyone, but it was right for us, no doubt. 

I am now mom to a son as well. Eli will soon be 15 months old. I don't know where the time has gone. The journey has been very different with him as I'm a stay-at-home mom now. Apart from a bad latch in the beginning and one plugged duct a few weeks ago, our obstacles have been very few. Sometimes I wonder how long he'll decide to nurse for or what lays on the road of nursing fun ahead!

Maia loves to watch her brother nurse and laugh at his toddler nursing acrobatics. And sometimes, she'll snuggle up beside me and tell me that she remembers when she used to drink milk from me. How special. I can only hope that she'll remember her own nursing experience and that of her little brother's. And if some day she has children of her own, I pray that they will be blessed with a beautiful nursing relationship like the ones I have enjoyed with my children.

 So that's my story. I've come a long way from "They still do that?" Of course they do. That's what breasts are for.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A year ago today, our life began

On December 17, 2011, 11 days before Christmas, 1 day after her due date and after 74 days in the NICU, Eleanor Dayle, my miracle baby came home. That video was filmed by my husband as we walked in the door and Ella and her big sister Olivia got to be together for the first time outside of a hospital. ALL of us were together for the first time outside of a hospital.

The last year has been a whirlwind. It's been the most amazing and stressful year of my life. I've dealt with Ella going back into the hospital with a life threatening illness for 10 days, severe postpartum depression that was beyond debilitating, moving, death in the family...but through it all, this tiny baby, this 2 pound baby girl who was so forcefully brought into the world before her time has grown. She's grown and changed and is now this amazing 1 year old who is over 19 pounds! She crawls, she pulls herself up and cruises on furniture, she says "mama", "dada", "done" and "no". She signs "milk", "more" and "done" and has a strong, independent, intense personality. She's an awful sleeper, she gets into the dogs water multiple times a day, she crawls up the stairs and never stops eating (solids AND mama's milk).

I honestly cannot put into words what today means for me. I cannot put into words how the experience of having a baby so small, so sick, so frail yet so strong and brave has changed me. It has imprinted my soul. It has shaped my entire life. My life was complete when my children were together under one roof, in our home.

I feel so blessed. I have amazing friends, a wonderful husband and family and two incredible, fabulous, strong, independent little girls. I truly love running this blog as well as Breastmilk for Preemies and being a doula. This post has been kind of a tangent I realize...I just kind of let the words flow.

Thank you all for being a part of my life and reading this blog. I love being a part of The Good Letdown. I love what we created...we all do. This community means so very much to us. Thank you all. <3

Friday, December 16, 2011

Adventures in Counseling - Getting the Itch

So an amazing thing has come out of our work on The Good Letdown...a path. All three of us have now not only discovered our desire to educate about and normalize nursing, but our unique passion for directly counseling mothers through breastfeeding difficulties and successes. Why? Because it is so extremely meaningful and satisfying, to noodle out a situation, save a woman some heartache, empower her to find a solution.

Let me tell you my first direct counseling experience. My friend Sarah (not her real name) had a long, hard induction that took about three days. Baby boy was born vaginally and she fought around every single corner to ensure that he was. She was a real warrior. Sarah got home on Baby Boy's second day, she nursed and nursed him, his latch seemed good and had been assessed by the hospital lactation consultant. However, for the duration of her pregnancy and her stay in the hospital she had been told over and over that she likely would not make milk or not make enough because, you see, Sarah has Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome which interferes with the hormones related to reproduction (and thus, milk production, or so the theories say). After a three-day induction and 9 months of being told her body was broken, the heartache that ensued in the following days makes sense.

I talked to Sarah at all hours during the 6 days following her birth. It took her milk SIX DAYS to come in. Baby Boy nursed and nursed, and we talked many times about monitoring his well-being, I made sure she was seeing a lactation consultant, and made myself available to her at all hours. I employed the help of my co-bloggers here and our extended friend network to make sure that she was well supported with solid information and enough shoulders to cry on. Sarah was scared, Baby Boy's diapers were wet, but not very, he was hungry. She stuck it out, and the milk came pouring in on day six.

I cried. It was a nail biter, but we worked together in supporting her, encouraging her to follow her instincts, reassuring her that it was OK to freak out, and assuring her that her milk would come. It was hard, we were all starting to question whether she was going to be in the very small number of women who struggled with milk production due to PCOS...and when she told us her milk was in, that her breasts were full and dripping, that the baby was gulping...I cried. i couldn't help it. Her determination, her willingness to seek support and our ability to provide it saved that nursing relationship.

It was eye opening, and everytime I read about a mother here on The Good Letdown who has struggled and overcome, who gives what she can and supplements the rest, who is looking out for the very best she can do for her baby...I am reminded how important the work of counseling women is in our society where so few women breastfeed. Everytime a reader posts a question and I see our community come out and share love, support, and information, I learn something new. It's wonderful!

I am going to be posting here and there as I learn through the mothers I counsel in my new position with WIC. I hope that we can encourage others to become counselors or leaders in the breastfeeding community...we can normalize nursing one person at a time...educate one and she may educate another.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Then There Were Six

I thought those front teeth would never come in foks. It started MONTHS ago with his major nursing strike. Remember? It was at least a month or two before the first two teeth came in. No joke...and it was the two to the side of the two center front teeth so he looked kinda funny. Judging by his behavior, by the look of his gums, and by what Aiden's teeth did, it seemed like he was getting all four at once...but no...he got those two side ones and it was another month before the middle two came through...and he was a moody BUTT the whole time. Fortunately we only had a very short visit with the biting phase and it was never very bad, thankfully.

You can't see his teeth, but he's too cute NOT to put in the blog!

But here is chase...he has 6 teeth and a 7th on the way. I knew tooth number 7 was on the way when the pulling resumed. Ooooo the pulling. this has been the worse symptom of his teething (for my nipples anyway) since he was 7 months old. He pulls at the breast, presumably to put counter pressure on his tender gums and jaw. I can't blame him, but I can STRONGLY hate the pulling. About two weeks ago he started the pulling again, repetitively pulling with his hand so much so that not only did it hurt my nipple from the shallow latch, but it was hurting my breast from the rough pushing on the skin. It's pretty flippin' rotten. He gets mad mad mad when I block him from doing it. This is NOT conducive to bedtime boobs, as I'm sure you can imagine. Irritating the mini-man does not help him get sleep.

So out comes the teeth cocktail again for everyone's sanity, especially my cutey baby. Here is what we use:

Amber necklace...ALL. THE. WAY. I was seriously skeptical about this when I got one from a bargain website a few months back, but I was sold the first night we forgot to put it back on after bath. I was up...ALL. NIGHT. LONG. Ok, one data point right? That's just a fluke...but it has happened a few times since, same thing. It really does help. Watch for a review on the product all three of us are using and have fallen in love with soon!

Hyland's Teething Tablets. Ok, that's kind of a lie. For MONTHS the teething tablets were pulled from the shelves while being reformulated. I don't know anything about this...all I know is that Chase started teething in the middle of the and I couldn't find it anywhere. So I had my local Natural Food store order me the Hyland's Kids Kit and until I finally found the teething tablets back on the shelf I gave him a blend of two of'll have to figure out which two on your own, or just get the teething tablets. I'm fairly certain if I divulge my methods we could be liable so I'm not going to go there. It's pretty simple if you read the labels of what is in the kit to figure out what works for teething. I actually really like that Kids Kit for lots of things, not just the teething combo I used.

During Chase's nursing strike, for a few days I had to also give him baby ibuprofen because the amber and the teething remedies were not breaking through the pain for him. I rarely use OTC medications for myself or the boys anymore, but some instances warrant it. Better living through chemistry...hahaha!

Since toofer number 7 is on it's way we have a pretty strict regime of keeping Chase happy with his necklace and with his homeopathics. If he is pulling a lot I know I need to give him the teething tablets...I go by his behavior, not by a schedule. This seems to work for us.

Additionally, Chase wears his amber necklace overnight. This is NOT RECOMMENDED by the manufacturer. I know that Mama Christa and I both do this with the babies but other moms are not comfortable. One way to reap the benefits of the amber overnight (which, frankly, is when we need it most) is to wrap it around a wrist or ankle and put a sleeve/pantleg/sock over it. As long as it is in contact with the baby's skin, it is doing good.  We do not recommend having your baby wear a necklace overnight either, we can't. It's just what the two of us do and you have to weigh options for your own family.

For now, this is working, and that 7th tooth is ALMOST through. I always hear that the eye teeth are real bears, but I don't remember from Aiden's teething how it compares to the rest of teething. In fact, Chase, overall, has been FAR MORE symptomatic about teething than Aiden ever was. He gets loose poops, cranky, low fevers sometimes, nursing strikes, flushed cheeks...the works.  I see some changes on the top gums, I'm wondering if those bears aren't moving into position...maybe. I'm ready. Right now, he's happy, cute, and busy, so I will keep doing what we are doing until it doesn't work!


I hope you found something helpful here to help with your teether. I never medicate or treat a child who doesn't act uncomfortable. Aiden rarely did, Chase ALWAYS does. For what it's worth, baby orajel is bad news...especially for breastfed babies. It only nums the gums anyway, and the worst of the teething pain comes fromt he movement of the teeth through the jaw bone. I remember this when I was in my very early 20s and I started getting my wisdom teeth in. My jaw hurt like HELL for days at a time, on and off for MONTHS. Orajel didn't help. Ibuprofen did. Having that vivid memory has helped me to help my boys a little better. Orajel has also been linked to choking due to numbness in the it's not safe to use anyway. A breastfed baby will sometimes have trouble latching due to numbness of the lips, tongue, and gums, so it mostly does more harm than good.

**fist pump** to the teething baby mamas out there. I feel you!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Another latch technique: "The C Hold"

One of our popular blog posts that we often refer to mamas who are having issues with getting a nice deep latch is this blog post about the Nipple Twist Latch. It's a great way to get a nice deep latch. There is another way that I have personally used, referred my postpartum clients and others to use as well with great success. It's called "The C Hold". This is an excellent technique that works especially well with moms who have large breasts or babies with small mouths (preemies, small jaws etc).

"C" hold--Support your breast with your thumb on top, well back from your areola (the darker skin surrounding the nipple) and the fingers underneath. Your fingers should also be well back from your baby's mouth. This hold is helpful when breastfeeding in the clutch or football position as well as the cradle position. This hold is especially helpful for babies with tiny mouths (small jaws, preemies etc) or women with larger breasts.

A variation of the "C" hold is the "U" hold where your hand is cupping your breast in the shape of a "U.

"The U-hold helps keep mother's fingers behind her areola so that they do not interfere with baby's latch. it allows mother to support her breast comfortably. It is extremely useful when holding baby in the cradle or cross-cradle position because it allows the alignment of the oval of breast tissue to match the position of baby's mouth. The long axis of the oval goes corner to corner in baby's mouth. This helps ensure baby gets a larger mouthful of breast. When the U-hold is used with the football (clutch) position or the side-lying position, the improper alignment of this oval to baby's mouth can make it harder for baby to latch on well." (Andrea Eastman, IBCLC)

Checking if your baby is latched on well:

Aim your nipple slightly towards the roof of his mouth, bringing baby to you, chin first.

Good latch-on checkpoints for your baby include:

his nose is nearly touching your breast, that is, no further away than a credit card edge
his lips are flanged
at least ½ inch of your breast around the base of your nipple is in his mouth.

If the latch is uncomfortable or painful, gently place your finger in the baby's mouth, between his gums, to detach him and try again.

A baby who is offered the breast will suck without swallowing as he positions the nipple in his mouth and tells your breast he is ready for the milk to let down. When he begins to receive milk, you will see his jaw working all the way back to his ear. His temples will wiggle. You will also hear him swallowing, quickly at first, then more slowly, as his appetite is satisfied. (excerpt from LLL)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pumping 411 - Getting the Most Milk

So what if you need to go back to work after your baby is born? What if you are needing to pump more than you already are because you can't keep up with baby's needs while s/he is away from you? What if you want to donate milk to a deserving family but don't want to risk decreasing your current supply? What if you have trouble emptying your breast while pumping?

Well, I just learned some new things in training that may be helpful to you.

Here's what I knew...I knew that you can pump just a few times a day after nursing your baby to increase demand and after a few days, you'll get a little more, a little more, and a little more. Usually. Obviously this is different for all women, and it can vary depending on how old your baby is and how effective a pumper you are. I also knew that mother's milk teas can help support this process. The few times I've tried this I've had a couple cups of the tea during the day whenever I thought of it, and pumped using a double pump maybe twice a day after nursing Chase. I found this very effective.

What I didn't know was that combining hand expression and hands on pumping can, on average, DOUBLE the yield from a single session. Now...this is more important that just having more milk...and empty breast makes milk faster than a full breast, so the emptier the breast, the faster it fills...the more milk it thinks it needs to make! So how do you do it?

Here is a great handout sheet from LLL about hand expression. This is a good guideline to start with, but pay attention to what works for you and modify how it works best. The research showed that if a mother starts her letdown with hand expression then begins using the pump, she will have more success, especially if she generally has a problem letting down to the pump. If you have 7.5 minutes and are interested in a video about it, this is very informative:

Pump until the milk slows to a drip or stops flowing, remove your pump flanges, massage and stroke the breasts, begin using the pump again in single mode, and do some massage and compressions WHILE pumping at your most efficient settings with your pump. Then massage and stroke the other breast, begin pumping and doing the massage and compressions to drain the breast a little more.

Now...hand express until you can't get anymore! Combine the milk, chill...done! Now...this sounds like a lot of work, and it can be, but you can pick and choose what works well enough for you. The mother's in the study who used this method took about 25 minutes total to express both breasts. Many moms don't have this kind of time to commit, so what should you do?

Get your breasts warmed up before putting your pump on a fast cycle and starting to pump. Once your milk begins to spray, slow the cycles down and turn the pump to your most efficient suction setting (where it is comfortable but removing milk). Your milk flow will slow, turn your pump back to the faster cycle and shake the girls around! Try turning it back to the slower cycle speed again to see if you get more, do compressions until you just can't get anymore and call it a day!

Some moms just do better, get more milk, and faster through straight hand expression, so maybe that's your ticket! Some moms also find a single hand pump just as effective for this situation, it's way less to set up, and you can control it easily by changing the speed of the suck and the pressure to your comfort. This can be very effective for achieving multiple the milk flow slows, increase the speed until another letdown comes through. A hand pump would also be easy to use while nursing baby on the other breast...what better way to get an excellent letdown that JUST KEEPS GIVING?! It's also easier and quieter to use while snuggling your baby (another excellent way to encourage a great letdown). So if you are pumping to build up a stash, slow and steady, to donate to a mom...this may just be the technique for you. In testing the pressure of the suction in many good manual pumps, it's equal to that in double electric pumps like Hygiea, Medela, and Ameda.

In order to ensure your highest comfort and your most efficient milk removal, make sure you are using the right size flange. A poor-fitting flange can cause endless problems, nipple trauma, pain, and decreased milk. Ameda has good images here of a good fitting flange and a too-tight one. On a too tight flange you will also notice blanching around the base of the nipple. A too-large fitting flange will result in too much areola getting pulled in and create quite a bit of discomfort. Both situations result in inefficient milk removal.

Not every woman needs a big, expensive, double electric pump. These pumps are best for moms who have to pump to return to work and thus must pump efficiently when they are away from their babies for an extended period of time. They are also a good fit for moms who are choosing to or NEED to pump exclusively for their babies whether they are home or not. Moms with babies in the NICU are better off using a hospital grade pump than a consumer grade double electric, but most moms do not need such a hearty pump. The rest of us can pretty much get away with a single electric or a manual pump.

It's important to spend. the. money. I'm sorry, I know it hurts, a good electric pump (again, Hygiea, Ameda, Medela) is going to cost a good solid chunk of change...but believe me when I say it will be worth it. The crappy box store pumps are just that: CRAPPY. It is unusual to find a mom who has success with these. Also, not all manual pumps are created equally. The Medela Harmony is probably the best bet for a manual pump. it's easy to use, simple, effective, and well designed. Not to mention, it allows you to get the correct flange size for you!

Milk collection and your health can be at risk if you don't properly care for your pump. This means inspecting and cleaning it regularly. When you are away from your baby AT LEAST rinse the pieces thoroughly so there is no milk build up in the nooks and crannies, and be sure to TAKE IT APART and wash the pieces every day at the end of your pumping day. When you take it apart inspect the tubing for moisture, mold, and milk. Inspect the membranes and valves for wear...the membranes and valves are soooo important to the function of the pump that even the smallest flaw can impact it's replace worn bits and pieces regularly. Read your manual, learn the lingo, learn how it works, use it properly, and your pump will last a long time.

I hope something here helps you to pump more effectively. Ask more questions, I just finished an extensive training on breast pumps...I got more to just gotta ask. ;)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Normalizing Nursing in Public - The Movie

As soon as I realized that making Xtranormal movies is free... I started dabbling with making one of my own. It's an anti-nursing in public woman having a back n' forth with a woman who is in support of breastfeeding. I thoroughly enjoyed making the movie and I hope you'll be amused too. Please share with your like-minded friends. Sharing is caring.

Normalizing Nursing in Public League
by: TheGoodLetdown

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Weeds Disappointment

So, my gal pals and I like to watch the occasionally trashy show for an escape and something to laugh about together. Weeds would be one of those. I'll be mentioning several things about the show - so super spoiler alerts here. If you are unfamiliar with the show, a brief recap would be stay-at-home-mom Nancy Botwin finds herself a widow and ends up turning into a drug dealer to support her two sons. Normal choice for anyone under the circumstances, right?

Her escapades take her though an insane journey where in Season 5 she ends up pregnant by a Mexican drug lord mafia type. Here's where it would start to become appropriate topic for our blog. Nancy breastfeeds this baby and has struggles against her husbands culture and wealth where he believes that her breastfeeding is bad for his image. She wins the argument and there are several mentions of breastfeeding/pumping for the rest of the season. There is even a scene where her pump isn't working and she's engorged so she has her brother-in-law suck out some milk. FYI - he swallows. I was impressed and happy that such a popular show would showcase breastfeeding. Winning!

Then in comes season 6... and well... I'm confused and sad. The beginning of the season she is still breastfeeding/pumping just as she was before, and even when hastily packing to make their great getaway the first thing she grabs is her freezer stash of breastmilk. But then about halfway through the season they bring the baby to the pediatrician and there when asked she says that the baby is formula fed. That was the first mention or hint of formula that I can recall. I was a little surprised that the show just threw that in there. I even listened twice to make sure I wasn't just hearing things. Then a few episodes later they show Enfamil and Similac in the cupboard while she's making a bottle. I have to say... I was very disappointed that they just switched to formula after she had made such a strong pro-breastfeeding stink in the last season.

Now, I have to say that if any of us breastfeeding moms were in her shoes we'd most likely end up with supply issues too... because let's face it.. the stress of being on the run cross multiple countries dodging your mobster drug lord husband's goonies and the FBI would probably dry any of us up. I was mostly disappointed that this logical explanation of why she switched to formula didn't make it past the editing room floor. All they had to do was add a one or two line explanation right there at the pediatricians office.

I believe the baby is around 4 months old at this point in the show, and without an explanation as to why formula came into his life it just feeds into the myth and assumption that baby's shouldn't get breastmilk after a certain age. They were SO CLOSE!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Visit with the Grandparents

So, last month I blogged about how I was nervous about my grandparents staying with me for 10 days over Thanksgiving because I knew this year I wouldn't be able to hide nursing a 3 year old. He's super obvious about when he wants his booby drink. I avoid awkward surprise situation I wanted to give them a heads up in advance, and that ended up happening through my dad talking to them about it. I have no idea what their initial reaction was, but the visit went beautifully and there weren't negative moments as far as I could tell. 

I believe it was their first or second morning here that they were in the diningroom with Chicken Little while I was in the kitchen. They must have been looking at a cow of some kind and I heard something like "Well, that's not the only source where he gets milk." Ears immediately perk up and I felt a little nervous. At this point I had no idea if my dad had even remembered to talk to them, and now I knew he had. 

Most of my son's nursings happen before/after sleep cycles, but I did nurse him a few times in front of them if he asked for a bonus boob. Everyone seemed comfortable with it. Whew! 

I got to learn a bit about my grandmothers breastfeeding experience, which was wonderful (perhaps I'll ask her to do a guest blog spot!). She had two boys and breastfed both of them. My dad is the oldest, and in Illinois 1955 they kept the baby in the nursery and only brought them to the mothers on a schedule. But they fed the babies bottles of formula in the nursery if they were crying. She remembered being so frustrated that by the time they brought him to her he wasn't hungry anymore and wouldn't nurse. When she asked why they didn't bring the baby to her when he cried the nurses reply was that it wasn't TIME to bring the baby. Oh my.... Grrrr!!! She said she was the only one of her friends to breastfeed and she didn't even realize it wasn't a thing to do because everyone in her family had always breastfed. 

My 14 month old daughter Chicklett stole big brothers sippy at one point and I jokingly scolding her telling her to give it back to him. My grandma had a great one liner come back saying, "Now, to be fair she shares her sippy's with him!" Ha ha ha! Good one grandma. 

All in all a pleasant coming-out-of-the-toddler-nursing-closet experience. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

X-Post: Need a doula? Buy 4 hours get 4 hours FREE ends Nov 27th, 2011

Cross Posted from Lucky Duck Saves a Buck... a great website for finding out deals and tips to save your family money! Check it out! Our very own Mama Christa has a new business venture and a great deal featured in this post.


Being pregnant is a lot of work. Like, We expecting mama's sometimes need help. We need a massage, the laundry done, someone to rub our feet when we can no longer see them. We need someone to reassure us about fears like, "Is my baby nursing enough" or "He's been sleeping for 3 hours, he never sleeps for 3 hours at a time, is that normal?" My warm, loving and compassionate friend Christa Johnson is an ante and post partum Doula located in the metro area of Minnesota. She is offering a deal on her services, Buy 4 hours, get 4 hours free, through Nov 27th, 2011.

This is such a wonderful gift to be given. I wish I would have had doula care after the birth of my son. Family and friends are nice and wonderful, but sometimes, you just need someone to care for you apart from family and friends who can be, well, a little overwhelming. Christa is a bubbly, tender, affectionate person who lights up the room when she enters. She is an amazing mother herself, she has two beautiful little girls, both born early, both spending time in the NICU. She is passionate about many things, but especially about breast feeding...don't worry, if you don't breast feed, no judgment! She runs a successful blog with two of her friends, The Good Letdown and has most recently been accepted to train as a breast feeding counselor through Breastfeeding USA.

Just some of the services that Christa offers as a ante or post partum Doula are:
  • Bed rest assistance
  • Sibling Care
  • Errands
  • Home care/Meal prep
  • Emotional Support and Education
I can't brag enough about Christa and this invaluable service of being a Doula. It is the best gift to get yourself or your loved one. Especially at these yours today! Contact Christa to schedule.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

NNIPL November - Secret Agents Week Three

Here's our enlisted Nursing in Public secret agents for the third week of November and also some reports back on NIP's for previous weeks!! Interested in being an agent for next week? Email in your info and a picture if you'd like to include that to by noon Sunday. NNIPL agents - please report back by Friday on how your experiences went this week and include photos of you nursing in public if you've got 'em! 
Uh…. Sorry I have been world’s worst (or would it be best?) slacker this week. Mama Christa and I got to meet Ina May Gaskins on Sunday… and then I don’t know what happened. Couple my usual procrastination with unusual children sleeping situations with my husband being home a lot because of some construction going on so then I couldn’t BS on the computer during the kids nap times because I felt like I should hang out with him…etc, etc, etc.

Better late than never….

Hello my name is Amber and I am a mommy to two sweet children Carmen 3 years old and Nico 8 weeks old. I am commiting to nurse at church.  Not in the Mother's Room or the Cry Room, I am going to breastfeeding while sitting with the rest of the congregation while listen to the sermon.  I hate to isolate myself to simply breastfeed my little guy so, I am not!  It is often deemed taboo to breastfeed during church.  Jesus was breastfed and it was the way God intended it. 

This week I have nursed in public 3 times so far.

The first was Tuesday night, again I was with my friend Rachelle. We went to eat at Poquitos on Capitol Hill in Seattle. Her baby is 5 months old (I said 4 months last time, but I was off a few weeks) and my baby is 10 months old. We still haven't learned that taking them out to eat isn't a good idea : ).  We attempted anyway. All was well until just before we got our food. Her baby started crying, and it was the boob to the rescue! My little guy was really interested in the guacamole, so I planned on nursing after. Our food came and Rachelle managed to eat and nurse at the same time (superstar nurser! See terribly blurry picture). Before we could finish eating the babies decided that they were done with the restaurant and started crying and egging each other on. The lovely waiters packed up the remaining tacos and our virgin margarita's and we said adios. I did not nurse here this night (though I have in the past), so Rachelle was the sole nursing secret agent. She did not use a cover and honestly, I don't think anyone even knew she was nursing.

Thursday night I went out with my friend Briana who has a 7 week old. We went to a meet the author event/book reading for Go The F**k to Sleep at Elliot Bay Books. This is not a book to actually read to your child, but since our babies are so young, we thought they wouldn't remember or pick up any bad words from it. Both babies were hungry when we got there, so after arriving late and sneaking to seats that involved other people having to get up to let us through, we both whipped out our boobs. Her baby was in the Moby and she nursed him in there easily. My baby is easily distracted, so after a few gulps, he needed to move on to other things which involved him wiggling to the floor and crawling into the aisle while I struggled to reclasp my bra and catch him. Again, I don't think anyone even noticed we were nursing despite the chaos of the escape baby mid NIP. I nursed him on the walk home though in the Ergo with the help of my nursing tunick which has zippers in the front for access so I don't have to take my coat off while nursing outside (my favorite nursing thing ever!). I walked several blocks home with him happily latched on and walked by tons of people, and not one person seemed to notice.

Friday I went out with my wife, and friends Joseph and Juan. We went to a nearby restaurant and were seated next to a nursing mom! How cool is that? She was there with her partner and another couple and was nursing without a cover. After ordering, I nursed my little guy to make sure he was going to be a happy camper while we ate. They had TV's there and he was very interested at looking at them, so it was sip sip sip, unlatch, turn around to look at the screen, and then back to me to pop back on. This involved a lot of nipple cover from me since he was unlatched so much. I have big boobs (Size J) so this little game was challenging to keep the boob hoisted into position and to keep from flashing everyone repeatedly with his latching on and off.  The other nursing mom noticed as did our waitress and a couple at another table. There were smiles all around at his silly antics with the TV, but no one seemed bothered in the least with my nursing.

- Audrey
Seattle, WA

So, I had planned on nursing Elizabeth at the doctor's office, but the hubs took her on some errands during my appointment. We ended up going to Subway for lunch and I nursed her while we ate. :).
We also had the babe's first birthday pictures taken at Portrait Innovations in Northville, MI.  She did an amazing job and the photos are SO cute.  Towards the end she got a little cranky and starting signing for milk, so as we picked out our favorite poses and prints, Elizabeth had some boob.  The photographer was sitting right next to us showing us the photos.  She didn't even bat an eye!  We were also in a very crowded room, with lots of other families-not one side eye, not one person stared. In fact, a sweet mamma (with her small toddlers) smiled and said, "oh its time for a snack, huh?"
We had a wonderful week, and I hope everyone else had great experiences!

So I nursed all over the pediatrician's office today.  And I didn't get much of a reaction from anyone. No reaction is better than a negative one! 
- she's giving me the ol' stink eye for disturbing her nums.
-look what the room had up! Yay!
Jessica and baby (one year old!) Elizabeth.

Here are some shots of NIP at the Jerusalem (yes, the real Jerusalem, Israel) zoo. No issues whatsoever, despite people of all religions and conservative backgrounds... it is a very baby-oriented society here...(normal to take kids to weddings etc..)..
BTW, the baby is a 7 month old boy -Nadav.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Don't tell me bed sharing isn't safe

I am fed up. I'm fed up with all the people out there who say that if you sleep with your baby, your baby will die. I'm tired of the doctors and the nurses who are uneducated and lazy. I want to punch the city of Milwaukee in their heads. I'm just sick of it. Sometimes I get so freaking tired of arguing with people who are SO sure that they're right I could just cry. It's like they won't even STOP and consider for ONE MINUTE that perhaps we might be onto something. I had a debate with a nurse today (on another FB group I run) about bed sharing and if it was safe. She requested that I give her proof that bedsharing was I did. And what does she say to me? "The AAP recommends you don't do it." I gave her scientific, researched, reputable sources...multiple sources...and she didn't even read them. She was so stuck in her own head and so convinced that she was right that she didn't even bother. Seriously? People like that just make my brain explode. I am not saying that ALL parents everywhere should bed share. I am FULLY aware that bed sharing is not the safest thing for everyone. HOWEVER. When bed sharing is done CORRECTLY and is, without a doubt, the safest, healthiest and best way for a baby to sleep. Can we consider the place with the LOWEST SIDS rates? Japan. Do you know how they sleep? On futon mattresses on the floor...WITH their babies. Hmmm...what does that tell us? 

What else points to bed sharing being safe? The fact that almost *all* SIDS deaths occur IN cribs. Yes, almost all of them. 

Oh, and don't forget the fact that virtually all studies that have been done regarding the supposed "dangers" of bed sharing, the parents were not bed sharing safely and correctly. Anything is dangerous if you don't do it safely. Can we talk about being in the car? Yes, let's. 

So, how many babies die a year in car accidents? Google to the rescue.Well. Would you LOOK AT THAT. According to Sutter Health, it is the LEADING cause of death and brain injuries in babies. 


Hmmm...was that extreme? Perhaps. Let's take a closer look at these deaths. Safe Mororists says that *at least* half of carseats are installed INCORRECTLY. Hmmmm...that might have something to do with deaths, do you think? I live in a cold climate. Brr...seriously it's like 20 degrees right now. If I went somewhere, I'd need a coat. So would my kids. SO, should I bundle them up in nice big, warm, down coats and toss them in their carseats like I see so many other people do? That might be another reason for these deaths. How many deaths by car accident could be prevented if every. single. carseat were installed correctly? If every single carseat was used properly?! Not all of them, for sure. I'm not sitting here saying that all car accident deaths are preventable. There are those deaths that occur when baby is installed completely correctly, so please understand that's not what I'm saying here. (And PS. regardless of the reason, every death is heart breaking and my heart aches for anyone seriously affected by a car accident.) 

Saying that bed sharing is unsafe is the exact same thing as saying that carseats and being in cars is unsafe for infants. If you do things correctly and safely, it's safe and healthy. If you don't, it's not. It's not like it's this HUGE amount of effort to put your mattress against the wall and on the floor. Nor is it a huge amount of effort to keep the comforter away from your baby. It's absolutely ridiculous to say that bed sharing isn't safe because you shouldn't have to go through all these extra efforts. Parenting is all about doing things differently for the sake of our baby's. Bed sharing, when done safely, is the best, safest and healthiest thing for a baby and study after study supports that. The ONLY times that babies have been harmed while bed sharing is, again, when it's done incorrectly.

So, there's my rant. It's a massive pet peeve of mine.

PS. Please go let the city of Milwaukee know what you think about these DISGUSTING ads:

1. Babies Sleep Better
2. Mamas sleep better
3. Breastfeeding is easier
4. It's contemporary parenting
5. Babies thrive better
6. Parents and infants become more connected
7. Reduces the risk of SIDS

Christa's reason why bed sharing is beneficial: 
It's how we're programmed. 
It feels right and normal. 
There is nothing sweeter and more lovely when snuggling your sweet baby. 
Getting up to go to the nursery sucks. 
We're aware of our babies.

...and on and on and on

PPSS (I don't even know what it is at this point):
An esteemed peer and friend from BabyLove MN also pointed this out:

In high income classes, most co sleeping deaths happened on a couch or in that fancy glider rocker...after they are told "no bed sharing".