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.


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.*