Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Nursing Clothing Review: Pika Bubi Nursing Top



Price: I bought this on Babysteals (yet again!) and and paid about $30 . . . this was a sale price though, and most prices I've found online currently are more in the $40-$50 range.

Fit: This top is long and loose . . . for sure long enough to cover the belly and back while nursing, bending, reaching, etc. It is actually long enough to be worn during pregnancy, if you so desire, which is nice but gives the unfortunate appearance of, you know, being MATERNITY clothing. I would prefer if this shirt were an inch or two shorter, however, if leggings and tunics are a go-to look for you, you'll likely approve of the extra length. The top consists of a sweetheart neckline shaped panel that fits over the breasts. It covered mine, but just barely. If you're especially large breasted this might not be the top for you.

Fabric: Heavy but comfortable jersey with a nice amount of stretch.

Aesthetics: Downside: looks a bit like maternity clothing. Upside: Flows instead of clinging, so this shirt covers a postpartum belly nicely. Caveat: Postpartum belly + extra tummy covering fabric can = strangers asking when you're due. Never fun!


Ease of Access: Since there is no built in bra, you must unclasp your nursing bra then arrange the shirt so that the openings are positioned over your nipples. Not too difficult, with a bit of practice.


Ease of nursing with discretion: The most discreet top I've reviewed so far. The openings are quite small (the stretch to the fabric makes them easy to use despite their size) and, with Rhys latched on, I had maybe a centimeter of skin showing around his mouth, which his head easily covered. This top is a winner if your primary concern is discretion.


Recommended?: Depends on what you want out of a nursing top. If you're looking for something especially flattering on your postpartum body, this probably isn't it. If you're shy about nursing in public and want something that allows you to nurse with minimal exposure, this may be the nursing top for you.

__________________________________________________________

I was not paid to review or endorse this product.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

(Pumping and) Supply Tip: Angry Birds (No, really.)

Disclaimer regarding supply: True low milk supply is rare. Perceived low milk supply, however, is one of the leading reasons women cite for giving up breastfeeding.


Genuine low milk supply is often the result of a medical condition: hypoplastic tubular breasts, sometimes in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, sometimes in women who have had breast surgery, and sometimes in women with thyroid disorders.


If you don't fall into one of these categories, it is worth considering whether your milk supply issues might be either perceived, or real but fixable!In this series on milk supply, I'm going to offer tips for moms whose supply issues are in the "real but fixable" category.

______________________

The release of milk, called "let-down", is facilitated by a complex cocktail of hormones that a mom's body releases in response to her baby's smell, the touch of her baby's skin, seeing her baby . . . all of her senses working in conjunction with each other. It is safe to assume that, for most moms, a breast pump doesn't elicit the same lovey-dovey reaction. The hormonal response difference between what one can expect during the nursing experience and what one can expect during a pumping experience is partial explanation for the difference between the amount of milk a baby probably takes during a nursing session and how much milk a mom may yield during a pumping session.

As a new mom, I remember being told "Your pump volume is a poor indicator of your milk supply. Your baby probably takes more at the breast" and thinking "BULLLLLLLLLLLLLLSHIT!!!" (I'm very ladylike in my head, as you can see.) Now, after my training and having learned, in detail, how my body makes milk and why, I know that's actually true. I don't expect moms to take my word for it . . . I know as a new mom I wouldn't have . . . but you can, is all I'm saying!

So, while pumping, how can you "trick" your body into letting down, if not the same amount of milk it would while nursing, at least more than you've been getting? Lots of ways! Any of the tips in my "Supply Tips" series will help, as will anything you can do to trick your senses into thinking your baby is nearby: photos, holding last night's jammies, watching videos, even just daydreaming about your baby.


Because pumping mamas typically feel the pressure to produce X number of ounces each day, pumping can be a pretty stressful experience. Stress (you guessed it) inhibits let-down. One way to reduce stress while pumping is to distract yourself. You know the expression "A watched pot never boils?" Well, watched milk collection bottles never fill. Some tactics that I've used to help me stop watching the bottles are:


* Wearing a nursing cover while pumping


* Using a hands-free nursing bra and doing other activities, like housework or cooking, while pumping


* Reading


* Checking emails


* Working on the computer


. . . and, most effectively for me (at least this week) . . .

* Playing Angry Birds on my iPhone.


Whatever works, right?



The Meyers could take that fort out in one bird flat.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Nursing Clothing Review: Glamourmom Nursing Bra Tank



Price: I bought this on Babysteals (again!) and (again!) don't remember what I paid. It was probably close to the $20.40 that it is going for now on Glamourmom's site through their "private sales" section (not really private at all, anyone can sign up!)

Fit:
Honestly? I'm not a fan of the fit of this tank. Momming involves all sorts of bending over, squatting down, leaning, and other behaviors that are likely to cause a shirt to ride up or result in mom flashing her backside. And most new moms wouldn't describe their tummy as their favorite feature. Both of these issues call for a bit of extra length in a shirt, to cover the bum and belly respectively. I think this Glamourmom tank falls short, literally. Go check out my review of the longer Target nursing tank (photographed in the same color even!) and see what you think. I find the Target tank to be much more flattering.

* Remember, nursing bra fit is EXTREMELY important. An overly tight nursing bra can cause plugged ducts, mastitis or reduced milk supply. Keep this in mind when trying on any built-in-bra style nursing clothing.


Fabric: All of Glamourmom's tops come in a heavy-weight, stretch jersey. And, this is practically sacrilege if you hang around high end nursing boutiques, but you know what? I don't like the heavy weight fabric. It is high quality, no doubt, but it makes me feel kind of sausage-y. I prefer a lighter weight fabric with more give (like the fabric used in the Target brand nursing tanks).


Aesthetics:
Too short, not entirely flattering. The integrated bra, however, has a plunge/v-neck shape, which I like.


Ease of Access:
The clasps on this top unclasp fairly easily with one hand, but it takes a bit of practice to learn to refasten them one handed. They aren't as easy to unclasp as the hook style fasteners on the Target brand tanks.

Ease of nursing with discretion: The actual nursing openings are quite small, so the integrated bra covers a good deal of the top of the breast.

Recommended?:
Not really. I find the (cheaper) Target nursing tanks to be more comfortable, more flattering and easier to nurse in. It seems Glamourmom is phasing this tank style out, as it is listed on their sale site but not their regular site. The new tanks listed on the main site ARE all longer, so I think Glamourmom has acknowledged that fit issue. I also don't like the clasps. I find hook style clasps to be easier to use (and more secure . . . these clasps have popped open on me once or twice).

__________________________________________________________
I was not paid to review or endorse this product.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

For Future Reference . . .

. . . it would be wise to confirm that one's nursing top is clipped before taking a photo with a Disneyland character. Whoopsie.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Shame on Similac

I received an email from Babycenter this morning directing me to this shameless bit of propaganda for the formula industry: a list of seventeen foods to avoid while breastfeeding, sponsored (surprise!) by a formula manufacturer and featuring not one but TWO formula ads per page.

Seventeen! My, that's a long list. I'll bet you never knew breastfeeding was so restrictive for mothers.

That's because it isn't.

And it makes me REALLY angry to see formula companies peddling bad information in an effort to convince mothers that breastfeeding is hard, or restrictive, or inconvenient.

Let's break the list down, shall we?

Coffee: I know of only one study that has reviewed the relationship between mom's caffeine intake and baby's behavior. That study suggests that mom limit her caffeine intake to 500mg per day. That translates to 5 cups of regular coffee, 2 cups of Starbucks coffee, 5 bottles of Starbucks Frappuccino, 7 Starbucks lattes or 11 cans of Diet Coke. In other words, lactating mothers shouldn't ingest more caffeine than any other sane person might.

Chocolate: There are about 30mg of caffeine in a chocolate bar. So you can have 16 1/2 before you've got to worry about your caffeine limits. Good luck getting through that many without barfing.

Citrus: The vast majority of moms find that they can drink orange juice to their heart's content without causing any tummy distress for their babies. This one falls into the category of "if it seems to affect your own personal baby, avoid it". There is, however, no scientific evidence that citrus fruits are problematic for breastfeeding babies.

Broccoli: Milk is synthesized from blood. Something must be embodied in your blood in order to express itself in your milk. The extra fiber in broccoli is what causes gas. Fiber that exists in your digestive tract, not in your blood. It is simply impossible that broccoli would be to blame for a gassy baby.

Alcohol: Big fat "duh": You shouldn't binge drink while breastfeeding. It is generally agreed, however, that one drink here or there, especially when timed to be consumed 2-3 hours before baby's next feeding, is of little consequence.

Spicy Foods: As with citrus fruits, "If spicy food bugs your own personal baby, don't eat it". There is, however, no medical reason your baby wouldn't be able to drink your milk after you've eaten spicy foods.

Garlic: This one brought on the LOLZ! The one study I know of regarding garlic and breastfeeding indicated that infants sucked longer and took more milk after mom had eaten garlic. Nice try, Similac.

Peanuts, Wheat, Corn, Shellfish, Eggs: All foods that are worth avoiding if you (duh) or your baby's father have a history of allergies to them. Otherwise? Eat up!

Dairy and Soy: If your baby is excessively gassy and seems to be experiencing tummy pain, and IF you think that gassiness is linked to your diet (rather than to the myriad of other reasons a baby might be gassy), then it is likely the culprit in your diet is either dairy or soy, and it is worth a try to eliminate those two things and see if baby doesn't improve. I find it hilarious that Similac mentioned this without bothering to mention that their (indeed, all) formulas are all either dairy or soy based, both of which are far harder on baby's tummy than breastmilk in the best of times, let alone in instances of diary or soy intolerance. If baby has a dairy or soy allergy, it is ESPECIALLY important that baby be breastfed!

Fish: While it would be prudent for nursing mothers to avoid certain types of fish which are high in mercury (a good list is here), it is important to note that in the studies that have been done, breastfed infants, even those whose mothers consumed significant quantities of mercury, scored better on developmental tests than formula fed babies. Is mercury a good thing in breastmilk? No. But is mercury tainted breastmilk still better for infants than formula? Yep.

Peppermint and Parsley: These are herbs known to reduce milk supply in therapeutic doses. It is unlikely that consuming the amounts typically used in cooking would cause a decrease in milk supply. However, if a mother was trying to maximize her supply, she might want to avoid these as well as a few others, listed here. Avoiding peppermint and parsley certainly isn't mandatory, though.

Breastfeeding isn't rocket science. Moms should use common sense with regards to alcohol, caffeine and environmental contaminants. In the event baby seems fussy after mom eats a certain food, by all means she can try avoiding that food (which may or may not help!). To imply, however, that there is a set in stone list of things (SEVENTEEN THINGS!!!) that nursing mothers mustn't eat is just complete fallacy. For shame, Similac.

Poor, unfortunate monkey whose mama drinks beer and coffee whilst eating peanut butter and ice cream.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Nursing Clothing Review: Glamourmom Nursing Bra Long Sleeve Top



Price: I bought this on Babysteals and honestly don't remember what I paid. It was probably close to the $30.80 that it is going for now on Glamourmom's site through their "private sales" section (not really private at all, anyone can sign up!)

Fit:
This shirt is basically a nursing tank with sleeves tacked on, which sounds positively genius. In reality, however, the fit leaves something to be desired, especially in the shoulder and underarm area. It puckers a bit under the arms and has two small gape-y patches at the shoulders, by the clasps. I could go for an extra inch or two of length as well. The shirt is serviceable, don't get me wrong, but it isn't "positively genius" the way I wanted it to be. Overall I feel the top runs a bit big and the bra runs a bit small, but that may just be a function of my own personal body type.

* Remember, nursing bra fit is EXTREMELY important. An overly tight nursing bra can cause plugged ducts, mastitis or reduced milk supply. Keep this in mind when trying on any built-in-bra style nursing clothing.


Fabric: All of Glamourmom's tops come in a heavy-weight, stretch jersey.


Aesthetics:
From a distance of more than a foot or two, this looks like a basic long-sleeved, scoop-necked top. Glamourmom's built in nursing bras have a plunge/v-neck shape so there is no "boob-thong" a la Target's nursing tank.


Ease of Access:
The clasps on this top unclasp fairly easily with one hand, but it takes a bit of practice to learn to refasten them one handed.

Ease of nursing with discretion: The actual nursing openings are quite small, so the integrated bra covers a good deal of the top of the breast.

Recommended?:
Probably. If you live in a climate where tank tops just won't get much use, this is a great alternative option. As always, be careful about the fit of the built in bra.
__________________________________________________________
I was not paid to review or endorse this product.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Nursing Covers

When your baby is a newborn, using a nursing cover is a great way to "break yourself in" to nursing in public. Most tiny babies don't object to having a piece of fabric tossed over their heads, and the stiff neckline of a nursing cover makes it easy for mom to see baby, and for baby to see mom.

When your baby is a bit older, a nursing cover can be used in order to minimize distractions and help baby focus on nursing when you're out and about in an exciting new environment. On the other hand, the cover itself might seem exciting and new to baby, and become its own distraction.

It is very much possible to learn to nurse discreetly without a cover. In fact, a nursing cover is essentially a giant billboard shouting "I AM BREASTFEEDING RIGHT NOW!!!", which isn't really very discreet. I'm half inclined to object to the use of nursing covers AT ALL because of this paradox. Ultimately, though, whatever makes YOU feel comfortable nursing in public is what you should be doing or using. Note that I said whatever makes YOU, the nursing mom, comfortable. This may or may not be the same thing that makes others comfortable. They'll live.

In my personal experience, the one instance in which I find my nursing cover to still be useful is while I'm nursing Rhys, especially nursing a tired Rhys, in his carrier. The cover isn't so much "over" his head in this position as it is "around" his head, which isn't as objectionable to him. It also gives the illusion that I'm walking around with a "sleeping" baby instead of with a "BREASTFEEDING!!!" baby.

I own two covers by Udder Covers which have served me well over these last ten months. Both were purchased using free cover discount codes. Use one of the following codes (sourced via a simple Google search) and you'll pay only $9.95 in "shipping and handling" for your cover (which is still a heck of a lot less than the $40+ covers go for in boutiques): onefree, family2010, babies, cousin2, parenthood (etc., etc. . . . the list goes on.)

Nursing with a cover while shopping at the Queen Mary Scottish Festival

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Nursing Clothing Review: Gilligan & O'Malley Womens Full Sling Long Nursing Tank


Price: $16.99

Fit:



* I wear a medium in these tanks. The tank is a bit loose and not clingy around the waist, which I like.

* It is important to differentiate between the "regular" style of this tank and the "long" style. I find the "regular" style to be a bit too short and much clingier. It is easy to differentiate online, but the tags in store don't make the distinction clear. You might want to try one on if buying in store.

* In the early days, back when I was a 34 F (I KNOW!), the built in bra of these tanks didn't fit very well. Beginning at about 7 months postpartum, the bra and the tank both fit well. If your breasts are especially large in comparison to the rest of your frame, you might be better off with your own nursing bra topped by a stretchy tank that can be pulled aside for nursing access (these worked very well for me during the first few months), or with a product like the Undercover Mama.

* Remember, nursing bra fit is EXTREMELY important. An overly tight nursing bra can cause plugged ducts, mastitis or reduced milk supply. Keep this in mind when trying on any built-in-bra style nursing clothing.


Fabric: Great medium weight, stretchy jersey. These tanks have held up especially well with weekly washings.


Aesthetics:
Flattering, basic tank top. Layers well with cardigans, jackets, or under t-shirts. My only aesthetic complaint is that the under sling looks a bit like a boob thong and I have to keep my eye on it to make sure the top, scoop neck layer is pulled up.


Ease of Access:
Easy, one handed clasps. I also wear these tanks under V or scoop necks, which gives me the option of push-aside nursing access (handy when I've got Rhys in a baby carrier) or lift from the waist access (which can be more discreet, when I want to be discreet).


Ease of nursing with discretion: The full sling style offers a bit of coverage to the top of the breast while nursing. It is an inch of fabric, at most, but enough to give the illusion that the top of the breast is covered.


Recommended?:
Yes, so long as you're careful about the fit of the built in bra.
__________________________________________________________
I was not paid to review or endorse this product.

Supply Tip: Fenugreek

Disclaimer regarding supply: True low milk supply is rare. Perceived low milk supply, however, is one of the leading reasons women cite for giving up breastfeeding.

Genuine low milk supply is often the result of a medical condition: hypoplastic tubular breasts, sometimes in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, sometimes in women who have had breast surgery, and sometimes in women with thyroid disorders. If you don't fall into one of these categories, it is worth considering whether your milk supply issues might be either perceived, or real but fixable!

In this series on milk supply, I'm going to offer tips for moms whose supply issues are in the "real but fixable" category.

___________________________

There are a number of herbs historically used to increase milk supply, and anecdotal evidence to back up their efficacy. It is unfortunate that there have been few, if any, clinical studies done to clarify whether these herbal
galactogogues actually work. However, fortunately, most of the herbs said to increase milk supply fall into the category of medications that are "Generally Regarded as Safe" for breastfeeding mothers. That means you can feel confident testing them out on your own personal body and seeing if they have an effect on your own personal milk supply.

The most commonly recommended herb for low milk supply is Fenugreek. Fenugreek can be obtained from health food stores, breastfeeding and baby boutiques, and online. Dosing instructions and number of milligrams per capsule vary from brand to brand, however a universal bit of advice is to start with a lower than recommended dosage and ramp up if and until an increase in milk supply is noticed. Once milk supply has increased and stayed at a higher level for a few days, one can try weaning off of the Fenugreek. In most instances, milk supply will remain at the new, higher volume level. If not, there are no risks associated with long term use of Fenugreek.

A few warnings: Fenugreek is a member of the peanut and pea family and, as such, if you have a history of peanut allergies it is best avoided. Fenugreek can make your (and your baby's) sweat and urine smell like maple syrup. Fenugreek is, in fact, an ingredient in many artificial syrups. There is a rare metabolic disorder called "Maple Syrup Urine Disease" (I could not make this stuff up) and it is important to make sure your Fenugreek use is not mistaken for this disease. Fenugreek also has an effect on blood sugar, so diabetics should avoid its use. As always, check with your baby's pediatrician and with your own doctor or OB before beginning any herbal remedy.

As noted above, there are few if any studies done on the effectiveness of herbal galactogogues. The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, however, has published a thorough and helpful protocol for the use of galactogogues, which contains information on and recommendations for the use of Fenugreek.

It is worth noting that any measures to increase milk supply will be most effective if combined with an increase in nursing and/or pumping. Getting the milk out is the key to teaching your body to make more.


Monday, February 28, 2011

Nursing Clothing Review: Old Navy Maternity Twisted Jersey Nursing Top

Old Navy Maternity Twisted Jersey Nursing Top

Price: $19.50 (I bought mine with a 20% discount, so $15.60.)

Fit: A bit on the large side. I ordered a medium but, if I had it to do over, I'd order a small.

Fabric: Great lightweight, non-clingy, slightly stretchy cotton jersey.

Aesthetics: Cute! Would likely be cuter in the right size.

Ease of access: My main complaint about nursing shirts that don't have a built in bra is that I have to deal with my bra clasps in addition to a shirt panel situation. That can be a lot to ask of a nursing mom, who is invariably working one handed while holding a squirming (and hungry!) baby or toddler with her other hand. This panel style worked great for me though . . . I reached in through the top of my neckline and unclasped my bra then simply tugged upwards on one side of the shirt's scoop-necked under layer to reveal a nursing opening. Uncovering the snacks took more time than it would in a full-sling nursing tank, but less time than it would in a "lift from the waist" clothing setup.

Ease of nursing with discretion: The design of this shirt allows you to control the size of the nursing opening, which afforded me a lot of coverage (moreso even than most full-sling style nursing tanks).

Recommended?: Yes, with the caveat that one should order a size down!

__________________________________________________________

I was not paid to review or endorse this product.

Meyers-y Monday


One Monkey, One Monkey, Drumming on a Drum
Dum ditty, dum ditty, dum dum dum

Friday, February 11, 2011

Supply Tip: Double Pumping

Disclaimer regarding supply: True low milk supply is rare. Perceived low milk supply, however, is one of the leading reasons women cite for giving up breastfeeding.

Genuine low milk supply is often the result of a medical condition: hypoplastic tubular breasts, sometimes in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, sometimes in women who have had breast surgery, and sometimes in women with tyroid disorders. If you don't fall into one of these categories, it is worth considering whether your milk supply issues might be either perceived, or real but fixable!

In this series on milk supply, I'm going to offer tips for moms whose supply issues are in the "real but fixable" category.

___________________________

"Double Pumping" is a term used to describe pumping both breasts at the same time. Since the let-down reflex occurs simultaneously in both breasts, pumping both at once can result in higher milk yields. It can also save time.

"Double Pumping" is ALSO a term used to describe pumping until let down, waiting 10-15 minutes, then pumping again. Lets call this "Double Pumping, the latter".

It is typical for a mom's milk to let down only once per pumping session. It is also typical for a mom's milk to let down several times during one nursing session. This divide can account for some of the difference between a mom's pump volumes and the amount her baby is likely to have taken at breast.

In order to effectively "Double Pump, the latter", pump until the flow of milk stops. Remove the pump shields and massage the breasts briefly (the MSS Technique, described here as item #3, is a great output maximizer). Pump again until the flow of milk stops. Then prop your pump parts up safely and step away for 10-15 minutes. Come back, and pump just until let down.

This technique can maximize pump yields in two ways: a) it creates the illusion of increased demand for milk, causing your supply to increase and b) you will net extra pumped milk in the second, brief pumping sessions.

It can be a lot of up and down throughout the day, especially for moms unable to pump at their own desks or workspaces, but the results tend to be well worth the effort for moms who are having trouble reaching their pumping goals!
The Chubathon

Friday, February 4, 2011

Quantifiers: A Study and Some Statistics

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for a minimum of 12 months and exclusive breastfeeding, without any supplemental foods or drinks, for six months. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for a minimum of two years, to continue thereafter for as long as is desireable to mother and baby.


Per the CDC's 2010 Breastfeeding Report Card, only 13.3% of babies are exclusively breastfed at 6 months, and only 22.4% of babies are breastfeeding at all on their first birthdays. There is no data on babies still breastfeeding on their second birthdays. The numbers for babies breastfeeding, although not exclusively, at six months is somewhat better: 43%


Why are American moms having trouble meeting the AAP and WHO's recommendations? Per a study published in Pediatrics in 2008, the number one reason cited for early cessation of breastfeeding was concern over the quantity and quality of milk.


We have a tendency, as breastfeeding mothers, to blame everything on our milk. Fussy baby? Must not be getting enough milk. Gassy baby? Must be something mom ate. Night waking baby? Must not have gotten enough milk in that last evening feeding.


The truth is: there are a myriad of reasons a baby might be fussy, gassy or wakeful, most of them having nothing to do with a mom's milk. (And I've yet to hear someone feeling ill after a bowl of ice cream wonder "what that cow ate?")


The mother of a formula fed baby wouldn't wonder if her baby was fussing or waking out of hunger because she'd have seen the milk disappear out of her baby's bottle. As breastfeeding mothers, what is our equivalent of "watching the bottle drain"?


* Weight gain. Baby should gain 1/2 an ounce to 1 ounce per day (4-7oz per week) for the first three months of life.


* Wet and poopy diapers. You should expect to see: 1 wet and 1 poopy diaper on the first day of life, 2 wet and 2 poopy on the second, 3 wet and 3 poopy on the third, 4 wet and 4 poopy on the fourth, 5 wet and 5 poopy on the fifth, and 6-8 wet and 3-5 poopy on day six and beyond. Good thing that trend didn't keep up, you'd have had a very busy day 15! (Keep in mind: After about 6 weeks, some babies start pooping less often. As long as baby is producing plenty of heavy wet diapers and gaining weight, this is likely fine. Of course, check with your pediatrician if you are concerned.)


* Hearing baby swallowing during a feeding. Here is a great youtube video to help you identify the sound.


* The breast feels firm and full before a feeding, soft and empty after.


* Mom can feel her let down reflex. However, do not be unduly concerned if you can't feel your let down! Many moms can't feel let down (myself included!). So long as your baby is gaining weight appropriately, you are assuredly producing and releasing milk.


* Seeing milk drip or leak from the opposite breast as you nurse. (Although, again, lack of leaking does not indicate poor supply.)


* Seeing milk in baby's mouth after a feeding, or in the corners of baby's mouth during a feeding.


And, a final note to pumping mamas, pumped milk volume is actually a POOR indicator of milk supply. Letting your milk down for the pump is largely psychological. It is very much possible for a mother with a bountiful milk supply to yield only drips when she pumps. Pumping strategy is another blog post, but for this post, let it suffice to say that one shouldn't invest too much worry over scantily filled collection bottles.

Chunky, milk-fed monkey.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Creative Breastfeeding

We took Rhys to Disneyland this weekend, which gave me opportunity to expand the list of unusual places I've breastfed. Specifically: on Pirates of the Caribbean, in line for Peter Pan, on the train and on the Mark Twain riverboat.

I've also breastfed on the kiddie train at Knotts Berry Farm, while outlet shopping, while hiking Fryman Canyon and Griffith Park, while both of us were buckled into the backseat of a moving vehicle and at a myriad of museums, aquariums, restaurants, beaches and malls.

I've pumped in cars, in supply closets and once in a half finished house on a Habitat for Humanity building site.

Where is the most interesting place you've breastfed or pumped?

Meyers-y Monday

Disneyland Edition

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Teething and Biting

It is a fact much bemoaned by tired parents and cranky babies, but infants tend to eke out a set of teeth over the course of their first year of life. I've assumed by watching my sweet boy grow his first set of chompers that the process is Not. Fun. Buckets of drool. Nomming anything he can get his hands on. Sleepless nights. Refusing the breast. Passing up his beloved sweet potatoes. It has been a rough process so far.


Anyone who has watched a teething baby chomp a teether could surmise: biting down seems to ease teething pain. When a mother spends a good chunk of her day with her nipple in her teething baby's mouth, the concern is obvious.


Here are a few strategies to avoid getting nipped:


* A happy fact: baby would be unable to suck, drink and bite at the same time. While nursing, baby's tongue covers his lower teeth and the top teeth are angled upwards and out of the way. Your nipple is safe while baby is actively drinking and swallowing.


* Mom should be on guard against biting towards the end of a feeding, when baby's sucking and swallowing pace slows.


* Keep an eye on baby: It is often possible to catch the mischievous glint in baby's eye right before he bites.


* If you suspect a nip is coming, slip your index finger in the corner of baby's mouth, hook the finger around your nipple and pull back.


* Tell baby "No" firmly, but not by yelling. A holler from mom can startle baby, sometimes leading to a nursing strike.



* Remove baby from the breast. If baby hasn't finished feeding yet, offer the breast again after a minute or two, keeping your finger ready and poised to break baby's suction if you sense another bite coming.


* Babies sometimes clamp down inadvertently as they're drifting off to sleep. If this is a problem for you, try to remove your nipple from baby's mouth before he falls completely to sleep, using your finger as a guard if necessary.


* It can be helpful to offer a teether, frozen washcloth, firm rub of the gums, teething tablet, etc. prior to nursing.


* Take heart! I've never heard of a mother's nipple being completely bitten off.

Dabbles in biting.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Product Recommendation: Undercover Mama

There are a zillion different options for nursing tops, and which one any particular mother likes best is a matter of personal preference. While some mothers prefer to wear specially designed nursing shirts with cleverly concealed openings, one doesn't need any special clothing in order to nurse a baby. Any shirt that you can lift from the hem, a shirt with a scoop or v neck that you can push down or anything that unbuttons down the front can suffice.

I've always been a fan of the v-neck/push down method, although it can be a bit indiscreet for nursing in public. My new favorite option, for times when I want a little more coverage, is the Undercover Mama.


The Undercover Mama is a tank top without straps that attaches with little clips to your nursing bra. It is designed to be worn underneath any shirt and to provide coverage to the back and belly when lifting from the hem for nursing access. You could accomplish the same effect by wearing a built-in bra style nursing tank under your shirt (I like these ones from Target), but I find that the Undercover Mama is a little less bulky. It also allows you to wear your own, perfectly fitted nursing bra. And the Undercover Mama clips to your bra in such a way that one handed nursing access is still possible, which is great because how many moms do you know who have spare hands free?


Now that Meyers has staged his last stand against nursing covers, the Undercover Mama really helps me to nurse discreetly in situations where I want to be discreet (allow me to qualify that by saying I often exercise my right to nurse INdiscreetly!). However, when I want to keep things under wraps a bit, I'm able to do so quite nicely with the Undercover Mama on.


A few days ago I was nursing Rhys at a museum and a group of guys came up and stood literally 2 feet from me. I was sitting there glaring at them, thinking "Pervs!!!" until I realized . . . they HONESTLY had no idea what I was doing (and likely would've been mortified to figure it out!). I was even less conspicuous than I would have been if I were wearing a nursing cover, and that's worth a recommendation, I think.

Nursing my little bundle on Xmas Eve, wearing the Undercover Mama

_________________________________

I was not paid to write this post or to endorse the Undercover Mama (Although now that it's out there, I'd gladly take a free nursing shirt. Maybe? Please? Ok, nevermind.)

Meyers-y Monday

Here, Mama. Have a twig!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Breastfeeding in Baby Carriers

Breastfeeding with baby in a carrier is liberating. Once I learned to breastfeed Rhys in his Ergo, I was able to breastfeed while walking, while hiking, while shopping, and even once on the kiddie train at Knotts Berry Farm (no joke). Being able to breastfeed while moving around enabled my husband and I to incorporate Rhys into our active lifestyle with ease.

To breastfeed in the Ergo:

* Wear easy access nursing clothing. A nursing tank with a full sling offers a bit of coverage to the top of the breast and can help you nurse discretely. A v-neck or low scoop neck top that you can pull down to nurse would also work well. What won't work as well: A shirt that you have to lift from the waist for nursing access.

* Loosen the shoulder straps. For regular babywearing, baby should be situated at "kissing distance", so that you're able to kiss the top of baby's head. For nursing, baby should be a bit lower, at breast height. Loosening the shoulder straps a bit will help accomplish this.

* For additional coverage, if desired, a nursing cover can be worn. In my personal experience, Rhys rejects the nursing cover when being fed in a cradle position, but doesn't object when in the carrier. However, if you're able to nurse discreetly (or if you're exercising your right to nurse indiscreetly!), baby may enjoy the view while you walk and nurse.

* Uncover the breast, slide baby over and help baby latch. It may be necessary to support the breast from underneath while latching.

* Go about your business! Hike! Shop! Wait in lines at amusement parks!

Nursing is also possible using a Moby or other wrap style carrier. Either in the "Hug Hold" which is very similar to the Ergo carrier positioning, in the Moby Wrap's Breastfeeding Hold as described here or in a nursing carry like the one demonstrated by this mom via YouTube.

Multi-tasking!

Supply Tip: Sleep and Rest

Disclaimer regarding supply: True low milk supply is rare. Percieved low milk supply, however, is one of the leading reasons women cite for giving up breastfeeding.

Genuine low milk supply is often the result of a medical condition: hypoplastic tubular breasts, sometimes in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, sometimes in women who have had breast surgery, and sometimes in women with tyroid disorders. If you don't fall into one of these categories, it is worth considering whether your milk supply issues might be either perceived, or real but fixable!

In this series on milk supply, I'm going to offer tips for moms whose supply issues are in the "real but fixable" category.

___________________________


Sleep. You remember it, right? That awesome thing you used to do every night before you had a baby (and extra on the weekends!). In an oxymoronic twist, if you could reclaim a bit of that sleep you're now missing, you might make more milk.

While there are no formal studies on how a mom's fatigue level correlates to her milk supply, many moms do report better pumping output when they're relaxed and rested. Even if it doesn't result in a supply boost, getting adequate sleep can improve a mom's mood and outlook, making her a better playmate for her baby.

Ways to incorporate more sleep and rest into your routine are:

* Go to bed with your baby once in a while. An occasional 8pm bedtime never hurt anyone. The laundry can wait.

* Nap with your baby on weekends. Add a nap to your "to-do" list. You'll feel like you've accomplished something when you check it off!

* Lay down with your baby and nurse in the side lying position for 20 minutes or so after work. A little rest, time to reconnect and a full baby belly can help set the tone for a calm, chaos-free evening.

* Cosleep or bed share. The ability to night-feed without turning on the lights, or even getting out of bed, can make a world of difference in terms of mom's sleep quality and morning fatigue.

No Pants Nappin'

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mastitis: Sadly, Also Close to Home

Remember that nursing strike Rhys went on? Well, Ms. Know-It-All, CLE over here managed to give herself Mastitis. Go ahead and snicker, I deserve it!

What went wrong:

* I was ill with the stomach flu. I nursed as little as possible and didn't pump to make up the difference.

* Rhys became ill with the stomach flu. I nursed as much as he'd allow me, which wasn't much, and pumped NOT AT ALL because I was too busy looking after my sick baby bear.

* I spent much of the time we were ill wearing a nursing bra with an overly snug band.

So, naturally, on day 3 of our collective illness I awoke with hellfire raging in my left breast. Other symptoms I noticed were mild fever, chills, a red wedge-shaped mark on the underside of my left breast (corresponding to the duct that was plugged), and extreme pain (especially at let-down).

Treatment for mastitis and plugged ducts involves:

* Moist heat. In the form of hot compresses, hot baths or hot showers.

* Massage. Which can be combined with moist heat for a greater effect.

* Emptying the breast. Through whatever means necessary. Nursing is the most effective way to empty the breast and, as such, is the preferred method. However, if baby isn't nursing, mom will need to pump with an efficient pump as often as possible.

* Pressure on the inflamed duct while nursing or pumping. If you can pinpoint the location of the blockage, pressure during nursing will help shift it.

* Ibuprofen. To reduce swelling, inflammation and pain.

* Antibiotics. Often necessary. Symptoms as described above merit a visit to your OB to determine whether you need them.

I'm happy to report that after two days of aggressive heat, massage and pumping, the mastitis passed (without antibiotics even!) Lessons learned: milk must be removed by whatever means necessary, bras must fit flawlessly and treatment for issues must be aggressive and immediate.

Rhys kisses and makes up

Nursing Strikes: Close to Home

Having just weathered an illness induced nursing strike with Rhys, I thought now might be a good time to review strategies for negotiating with a striker.

Sometimes babies refuse the breast. Provided baby is under a year old, it is highly unlikely that a nursing strike is a true attempt at weaning. Especially if one of the following factors is also in play:

* Baby is ill. A stuffed up nose can make it difficult to nurse. A sore tummy can leave baby without much of an appetite.

* Mom has been especially busy or stressed out of late.

* Baby's routine has been disrupted (a move, new daycare provider, travel, etc.)

* Baby is teething.

Coaxing a striking baby back to the breast requires patience and dedication:

* To the extent possible, mom should shelve all extraneous obligations and focus solely on baby, recreating the newborn "babymoon" atmosphere.

* Mom should hold baby skin to skin as much as possible. Taking a bath together is a great way to get in a little extra skin to skin contact.

* Mom should wear clothing that provides the easiest possible access to the breast so that if baby shows interest, she can offer the breast with minimal fuss and unbuttoning.

* It is crucial that mom pump to empty her breasts and help maintain her milk supply. Overfull breasts can lead to painful plugged ducts and mastitis, which will only complicate matters further.

* If baby will latch but loses interest in the breast after a few seconds, it may be helpful to pump for a minute in order to stimulate the milk ejection reflex and get the flow of milk started for baby.

* It is important that mom remain calm, even nonchalant (if possible!) when offering the breast.

* Mom's pumped milk can be offered to baby in a bottle, cup or feeding syringe. If baby is over 6 months old, solid foods may be offered.

* Keep an eye on baby's diapers. Contact your doctor immediately if baby isn't peeing or is showing other signs of dehydration (dry mouth, sunken eyes, lethargy, etc.)

The face of a striker

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Supply Tip: Skin to Skin Contact

Disclaimer regarding supply: True low milk supply is rare. Percieved low milk supply, however, is one of the leading reasons women cite for giving up breastfeeding.

Genuine low milk supply is often the result of a medical condition: hypoplastic tubular breasts, sometimes in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, sometimes in women who have had breast surgery, and sometimes in women with tyroid disorders. If you don't fall into one of these categories, it is worth considering whether your milk supply issues might be either perceived, or real but fixable!

In this series on milk supply, I'm going to offer tips for moms whose supply issues are in the "real but fixable" category.

___________________________

Remember when you were in the hospital with your newborn and (hopefully!) nurses, lactation consultants and doctors encouraged you to nurse your baby "skin to skin"? In the newborn stage, that skin to skin contact helped start up your milk making factory (and to keep your baby warm and toasty!).

Later in lactation (Say: When you've gone back to work and you're stressed about your pumping output so you Google "Milk Supply Tips" (Oh! Hey there!)), good old skin to skin contact can still give you a supply boost. Touching your baby causes the release of all sorts of lovey, mothering hormones that help crank up your milk supply.

Whipping off your top and stripping your baby down to a diaper isn't always feasible, but most moms can incorporate at least one skin to skin nursing into their day. You might be able to nurse skin to skin as part of your bedtime routine, maybe before baby's bath when baby is undressed and you're changing from your work clothes into your pajamas. Aside from being a convenient time, Evenings can be an advantageous time to try this tactic because Prolactin levels shift throughout the day and tend to be lowest in the evening, thus any supply booster is especially welcome at nighttime.

Meyersy Monday

Tuesday Edition:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Breastfeeding Support Groups: The Stats on Why To Go

According to a study published in the British Medical Journal in 2004, 76% of women who met with a breastfeeding counselor were still breastfeeding at 6 weeks postpartum, compared with 64% who talked to a counselor on the phone and 60% who did not contact a counselor at all. Merely offering breastfeeding counselors to women was not enough to increase breastfeeding rates. However, women who took advantage of counseling were, on average, successful at breastfeeding for a longer period of time.

There are a myriad of support options for nursing mothers, ranging from La Leche Leage meetings to groups held at baby boutiques to online message boards.

Below is my list of support group options in the Los Angeles area:

A Mother’s Haven15928 Ventura Blvd, Ste 116
Encino, CA 91436
Phone: (818)380.3111
Fridays, 10am-11:30am
$10, drop in

The Pump ConnectionPhone (818) 225-8822
Call for support group schedule

The Pump Station Santa Monica2415 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Phone: (310) 998.1981
Tues.0 - 4 months,1pm
Wed.0 - 4 months,1pm
Sat. Working Moms, 9:30am
$15, drop in


The Pump Station WestlakeVillage Glen Plaza
2879 Agoura Rd.
Westlake Village, CA 91361
Phone: (805) 777.7179
Mon.0 - 4 months, 1pm
Tues.4 - 8 months, 1:30pm
$15, drop in


The Pump Station Hollywood1248 Vine St.
Hollywood, CA 90038
Phone: (323) 469.5300
Tues.0 - 4 months, 1pm
Thurs.0 - 4 months, 1pm
Wed.4 - 8 months, 1pm
$15, drop in

La Leche League of Burbank/GlendaleMeets on the first Thursday of each month at 7:30 PM
Incarnation Church, 1001 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale

La Leche League of Hollywood/Silverlake AMMeets on the second Wednesday of every month from 10am-noon
Silverlake Recreation Center, 1850 West Silver Lake Drive

La Leche League of LLL of Hollywood Silverlake PM/CouplesMeets on the Last Wednesday of the month at 7:00 PM
Offices of Dr. Paul Fleiss, 1824 Hillhurst, Hollywood

La Leche League of San Fernando Valley, California

La Leche League of Los Angeles
West L.A. Meeting:
Meets on the second Monday of each month from 10am to 11am
St. Bede's Church, downstairs church hall
3590 Grandview Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90066
Santa Monica Morning Meeting:
Meets on the third Tuesday of each month from 10am to 11am
1119 Broadway, #D, Santa Monica, CA 90404
Santa Monica Evening Meeting:
Meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month from 7pm to 8pm
Gan Israel Preschool, 1341 9th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401

La Leche League of Pasadena, California

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Supply Tip: Supply and Demand

Disclaimer regarding supply: True low milk supply is rare. Percieved low milk supply, however, is one of the leading reasons women cite for giving up breastfeeding.

Genuine low milk supply is often the result of a medical condition: hypoplastic tubular breasts, sometimes in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, sometimes in women who have had breast surgery, and sometimes in women with tyroid disorders. If you don't fall into one of these categories, it is worth considering whether your milk supply issues might be either percieved, or real but fixable!

In this series on milk supply, I'm going to offer tips for moms whose supply issues are in the "real but fixable" category.

___________________________

The secret to a healthy milk supply is breastfeeding as long and as often as possible.

The most basic premise of milk supply is that your body will make milk according to how much milk is removed. The single most powerful way to boost your milk supply is to remove more milk, more often, via either nursing or pumping. Nursing rather than pumping is preferable, when possible, because the lovey, mothering hormones your body releases when you touch your baby assist your milk ejection reflex (and I'm assuming most women don't have a release of lovey, mothering hormones when they touch their pumps. Just a guess.)

Ways to incorporate more milk removal into your day include:

* Offering the breast as often as possible

* Pumping after you've finished nursing. Don't be discouraged if you don't net very much milk from these pumping sessions: the goal is to create the illusion of increased demand and place the order for more milk, not to net extra pumped milk for the day.

* Try pumping one breast while your baby nurses on the other. A hands-free pumping bra can help accomplish this.

* About that hands-free pumping bra: using one can help you pump in all sorts of unlikely places (while doing housework, while getting ready for work, under a nursing cover while driving, etc.). Be creative, and you just might find you have time for an extra pumping session after all.

New Study: Breastfeeding and IQ at 10 Years of Age

A new study published on December 20th, 2010 has found that boys who were primarily breastfed for 6 months or more showed greater achievement in math and reading at 10 years of age than their non-breastfed counterparts, even after adjusting for factors such as mom's income and education level. Breastfed girls also weighed in with higher test scores, however, that difference was not deemed statistically significant.

A number of factors may be at work here. Breastfed babies benefit not only from the smarter fats and optimal nutrition of breastmilk, but from increased skin to skin contact and bonding time with their mothers.

Super Rad



I ran across this photo while trolling for breastfeeding info online a few weeks ago and it just makes me happy.

What doesn't make me happy? Blogland's commentary on this photo: "Maggie Gyllenhaal caught breastfeeding in public" (as if breastfeeding should be done in private), "This might freak some people out" (as if it should) and "I almost didn't post these pictures because of the whole breast feeding in public debate" (whether babies get to eat is up for debate?).

If more high profile women breastfed unashamedly, that might help to normalize breastfeeding in the public's eye.

Maggie Gyllenhaal: YOU RULE. I'm off to buy all of your movies now.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Meyers-y Monday

My little ham, opening a present from Santa on Xmas morning:

Boob: The Portable Food

My family and I were away for several days over the holidays and feeding Rhys in the course of our travels really highlighted the fact that breastfeeding is uber convenient for moms on the go:

* Breastmilk is always available, ready to go, and at the perfect temperature.

* Breastfeeding mothers can travel light: No bottles, refridgeration or sterilization equipment to pack.

* Breastfeeding mothers never run out of food for their babies (A potentially cruicial benefit in the event of travel delays, holiday traffic, etc.)

* Breastmilk helps protect against illness, helping baby brave travel and crowds and upping mom and baby's chances of having a cold and flu free vacation.

* Breastfeeding ensures that, even on the most hectic days, mom and baby will have quiet time together to bond.

* Breastfeeding burns a slew of calories, meaning mom can enjoy that Peppermint Mocha / piece of fudge / pile of potatoes / 18th chocolate covered Peppermint Jo Jo / etc.


Nursing Rhys in the backseat of our (parked!) car, halfway up to Monterey. *Nursing a baby in a moving vehichle, while mom and baby are both fully buckled in, is TOTALLY POSSIBLE, by the way. But that's another blog post.*