Sunday, December 21, 2008

public nursing

This is a huge art display at the American History Museum in Washington DC. I thought it was great to see of all the displays they could have put up for early American immigrants, they chose one of a mother nursing her infant. Hurray for public nursing!

Monday, December 8, 2008

breast feeding a toddler

We are quickly approaching my daughters second birthday and subsequently our two year anniversary for breastfeeding. For some strange reason I assumed the longer we nursed the easier it would get. In some ways it has, my daughter and I are pros and reading each others signals and communicating. I have found though that it is a constant re-dedication and commitment I have to make each day.

Here’s a few thought about making the continued commitment, if you chose to do so, and some things to expect.

Raised eyebrows – expect people will ask you how old your little one is when carting around your breast pump at work – expect they will give you a second glance and perhaps and raised eye brow when you say “two years old” or older.
New problems – I’ve found that nipples crack just as easily after two years as they did after two days – lanolin cream is still a good friend – I’ve also encountered some new problems such as blisters – ¼ teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and soak for three minutes (please don’t laugh, although the picture you are thinking of is pretty close to how it was, windows closed of course)
Self doubt – I find myself still enjoying our moments and then at other times wanting to postpone nursing requests– sometimes my daughter will go all day without wanting to nurse and I think she is done and get sad and other nights I am an all night buffet (very infrequent now, but with the occasional cold comes a less that restful night). The self weaning process takes time and I find that if I trust my daughter will know when she is done nursing for good then I feel I am actually building a trust relationship with her that will last for her whole life (that probably only makes sense to other mom’s of nursing toddlers).
Good doctors are harder to come by – when you find a good gynecologist (in my opinion every woman should have one she is comfortable with) you go out of your way to keep that doctor. Right now a good doctor is one who does not tell me to stop nursing. For whatever reason I feel it is important to continue until we are both ready to quit and my daughter is certainly not ready (at least most days) to quit. I was very lucky and found a doctor out here that thinks my decision is great and told me I’m amazing for working and still nursing (A+ in my book of doctors), so now I have someone to call and ask what to do about blisters and new cracks and re-occurrences of thrush, etc.
Make some friends – I think making friends with other nursing mom’s (big plus if they are believers in toddler nursing) is important for the support, especially with the increase of raised eye brow syndrome you will suffer from. La Leche League is a great way, I haven’t found a group yet, but I am making friends in the buildings lactation room, it is always nice to run into another mom carting around a breast pump (it’s like an instant bond).

I hope that this proves helpful for someone. Nursing is great and nursing a toddler is not only great, but also a fun adventure (most of the time). I suggest any mom considering it to at least give it a try for a couple of months, you might find you really like it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Nursing on the move

We just completed a cross country move and even though it was very stressful and breastfeeding added just one more thing on the “to do” list we kept at it. I found that it helped my daughter to relax a little and sleep better, plus it helped me knowing she was getting some extra nutrients along with those French fries and chicken nuggets. We are still going strong coming up on 21 months. Here are a few things I learned nursing on the move.

Don’t be shy, you can’t afford to. Nurse when the baby wants to when you are out of the car. The first few times it is hard to be discrete, but I quickly became an expert at discrete nursing while shopping, ordering food, checking out of hotels, and everywhere in between.
It is possible to nurse in the car. It’s easier in a rear facing car seat, but possible in a front facing one also. You will be surprise how versatile your nipples really are. In either instance I suggest sitting next to your child (otherwise it ain’t gona happen sister-our nipples are versatile, but they don’t stretch…hehe). You have to only wear the lap portion of the seat belt for it to work so I would put the shoulder part behind me. I would then get my breast our and ready and lean towards my daughter, pulling the car seat a little towards me also. My daughter did the rest. The only down side is one breast gets lots of attention while driving so when we stopped I would nurse off the other side to keep things even.
Drink lots of water when you can. I have what feels like a very small bladder so I wouldn’t drink much while we were driving, but I would when we stopped for the night and before we’d stop for lunch. You will want to drink some in the car and risk those stops (the little one will need them anyways) and you don’t want to get dehydrated or your supply will drop.
Don’t expect to do more than 8 hours a day driving. Plan your trip that way or maybe with a little leeway (we planned for only 6 hours of driving time and ending up with 8 each day got to our new home a little early) that way you don’t have to get stressed for getting behind.

It is possible to nurse through any difficulty so just stick with it and the closeness will be a familiar comfort to you and your child through a stressful period.

On a non-nursing note, if you are moving from family your child is close to I strong recommend taking everyone’s picture and bringing them along in a little photo album in the car. Our daughter is only two, but she misses her grandparents terribly and I wish I had though of that before we left. We had to make an emergency run to a print shop to get photos of everyone printed up. Calls home to the family left behind help too. Your little one may not talk much to them, but just hearing their voices will help calm anxieties and fears.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Once I decided that nursing was important enough to stick it out I found myself in need of a good breast pump. After trying a borrowed hand pump first I realized that I needed something better and considerably more expensive. Now after two years of use I have gotten my money’s worth several times over.

What to look for:

Ask to use the hospitals while you are there, see how you like it.
The hospital even gave me the parts to take home so I had kind of a “starter” kit and they showed me how to clean and care for the pieces. (Don’t wash the tubing!)

How long will you be using it?
If you are only going to pump for a few months it might be more economical to rent one from the hospital. Maybe you are not sure you want to nurse for the long run, this will give you an idea of what it takes and how wonderful it can be.

How often will you pump?
If you are dedicated to the cause and want to avoid formula at all costs I highly recommend an electric double pump. If you look at the cost of the (pump + milk bags + breast pads + a few extra poopy diapers) and compare that with the cost of (formula per month + a few more doctor visits + lots of bottles + a bottle warm for late nights) you can see the pump is a bigger investment to start, but far less expensive in the long run.

Do your homework.
Read up on the different features, ask friends, go online, maybe borrow a friends if you have that option. They are super easy to clean and sterilize the parts so don’t let sharing scare you.

Personally I use the Medela Pump In Style Advanced over the shoulder bag. I like that it works quick and has a special feature to get the milk flow going. They also have excellent phone support even for problems you might run into nursing. I have used mine at least once a day for almost two years now and it is still pumping strong.

How about a free pump?

Yeah! This is for those moms who wouldn’t mind donating a few extra bags of milk (a shipment is about 20 bags of 6oz of milk) to The National Milk Bank. You can see the link on the side. My sister and my friend from work both got pumps from them and they are excellent hospital grade pumps. The only side note to make is the one they sent my friend from work cannot run on batteries so be sure you have a good outlet if this is the path you choose. It’s great to get something so expensive for free, plus the milk you donate goes to help babies in the NICU so you can feel good about it too. I’ve been donating for over a year now and it’s great to see Emily’s extra milk go somewhere good.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The benefits start from day one and build as you go

This is from the I Make Milk, What's Your Superpower facebook page. The administrator took it from her local paper.

"What If I Want To Wean My Baby? taken from a *Babies First* article printed in my local paperIf you breastfeed for a few days, your baby will have received your colostrum or early milk. Packed with optimal nutrition and antibodies, it helps get your baby's digestive system going and give him his first - and easiest - immunization.If you breastfeed for four to six weeks, you will have eased him through the most critical part of his infancy. Breastfed newborns are much less likely to get sick or be hospitalized and have fewer digestive problems than artificially fed babies.If you breastfeed for three or four months her digestive system will have matured a great deal and she will be much better able to tolerate the foreign substances in artificial baby milk. If you breastfeed for six months, she will be much less likely to suffer an allergic reaction to artificial baby milk or other foods. A new study indicates that nursing for more than six months may greatly reduce the risk of childhood cancers as well. If you breastfeed your baby for nine months, you will have seen him through the fastest and most important development of his life on the most valuable of all foods - your milk.If you breastfeed your baby for a year you can avoid the expense of artificial baby milk. Many health benefits during this year of nursing will last her whole life. She will have a stronger immune system, less chance of childhood and adolescent obesity and will be much less likely to need orthodontia or speech therapy.If you breastfeed your baby for eighteen months, you will have continued to provide the highest quality nutrition and superb protection against illness at a time when illness is common in other babies. The US Surgeon General says "It is the lucky baby that nurses to age two".If you breastfeed your baby until he is ready to wean, you can feel confident you have met your baby's physical an emotional needs in the most natural, healthiest way possible. In cultures where there is no pressure to wean, children tend to nurse for at least two years. Mothers who have nursed for two or more years have a lower risk of developing breast cancer.Don't worry that your child will nurse forever. All children wean eventually no matter what you do and there are more nursing toddlers around than you might guess."

There are a lot of great resources out there, if you are on facebook they have a few breastfeeding groups where you can post questions and get answers from other moms. Plus it's fun being a member and talking about what you love.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Flush with Thrush

I thought it might be a good time to tackle some common problems I’ve faced throughout my 19 months of breastfeeding. Thrush wasn’t the first problems, but it has been the most persistent one so I choose this to discuss first.

What is Thrush?
Oral thrush is a condition in which the fungus Candida albicans accumulates on the lining of your mouth.
Oral thrush causes creamy white lesions, usually on your tongue or inner cheeks. The lesions can be painful and may bleed slightly when you scrape them or brush your teeth. Sometimes oral thrush may spread to the roof of your mouth, your gums, tonsils or the back of your throat.
Although oral thrush can affect anyone, it occurs most often in babies and toddlers, older adults, and in people with compromised immune systems. Oral thrush is a minor problem for healthy children and adults, but for those with weakened immune systems, symptoms of oral thrush may be more severe, widespread and difficult to control.

What and the symptoms?
Oral thrush usually produces creamy white lesions on your tongue and inner cheeks and sometimes on the roof of your mouth, gums and tonsils. The lesions, which resemble cottage cheese, can be painful and may bleed slightly when rubbed or scraped. Although oral thrush symptoms often develop suddenly, they may persist for a long time.
In severe cases, the lesions may spread downward into your esophagus — the long, muscular tube stretching from the back of your mouth to your stomach (Candida esophagitis). If this occurs, you may experience difficulty swallowing or feel as if food is getting stuck in your throat.
Signs and symptoms in infants and breast-feeding mothersHealthy newborns with oral thrush usually develop symptoms during the first few weeks of life. In addition to the distinctive white mouth lesions, infants may have trouble feeding or be fussy and irritable. They can also pass the infection to their mothers during breast-feeding. The infection may then pass back and forth between mother's breasts and baby's mouth. Women whose breasts are infected with candida may experience the following signs and symptoms:
Unusually red or sensitive nipples
Shiny or flaky skin on the areola
Unusual pain during nursing or painful nipples between feedings
Stabbing pains deep within the breast

Personally my symptoms where subtle and we first saw them in my daughter. She had to have an antibiotic shot for an infection and about a week later I noticed her tongue has white splotches on it. About the same time she started having problems at the sitter, being very fussy and clingy. At first I just dismissed it for the natural separation anxiety infants begin to feel at about 6 months, but I finally took her to the doctor where he said part of the problem might be the thrush which could cause her a little pain and discomfort.
I found about two weeks later I started having some subtle nipple pain while pumping. Then I noticed little tiny bleeding spots on my nipples and a little blood on my breast pad after I would pump. Finally came the unbearable itching, I would want Emily to nurse just to soothe it as scratching your nipples isn’t the best idea.

What is the treatment?

At this point I made several mistakes. The doctor told me to get her some infant probiotics, which I had a very hard time finding. I asked is Acidophilus would be ok, but the doctor told me if I couldn’t find it them don’t worry about it. Well it only got worse. I was finally able to find infant probiotics in powder at a Whole Foods store and began giving her one serving a day. These are perfectly safe to give more than once a day and I didn’t see any improvement until I gave her three servings a day. My next mistake was not insisting on getting her treated with some medicine (Nystatin or similar). The thrush had gone so long that I finally had to get her doctor to prescribe something. This goes into my third mistake, not treating myself. The thrush will transfer from mom to baby and back if both aren’t treated at the same time. The best way to do this I found is take a little of the medicine prescribed for your baby and put it on your nipples. Also use cotton nursing pads and be sure they get washed in hot water and clean all the toys your baby puts in his or her mouth until both your symptoms are gone. You’ll have to be sure the sitter does this also otherwise you will have multiple outbreaks.

Can I prevent this fun experience?

Yes you sure can. I personally believe if I had been better informed and knew what I was doing I would have not had problems with it at all. First I read to take Asidophilus while taking antibiotics to replace the good bacteria that is getting killed along with the bad. A good way to help your infant is getting the power probiotics and including it once a day while on antibiotics. This can also help to prevent the antibiotic diarrhea that seems to accompany some treatments. If anything just eat one yogurt a day, it is packed with the healthy organisms you need and good for you too. You can even find infant yogurt now. If you are still concerned, or like me have bad luck with reoccurrences, you can clean your nipples a couple times a day with a solution of vinegar and water. I used about a half mL of vinegar to 10mL of water or more water if that seems to irritate your skin. Just dap it on once or twice a day. This will dry out your skin though so I also suggest adding a dap of Lanolin cream after each application to avoid a different kind of soreness.

On an ending note these are just my personal experiences, yours may be different. It is common to get, but you will probably find a lot of nursing moms who have never had problems with it. Everyone is different. You can find lots of good tips and information online too, I just did a Google search and found a plethora of information in just one search on “thrush”.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

World Breastfeeding Week

It's so nice to have a full week dedicated to celebrating such a wonderful thing!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Donating Milk

I have plenty of extra milk from pumping at work and my daughter refusing anything except straight from the tap so I donate it all. First I used the National Milk Bank, which is a great service, and then I decided I wanted to help someone locally so I found a family in Tucson looking for milk and they get all my extra. It's never been a problem donating, I know I am perfectly healthy and I am happy to help, but my friend asked me the other day "Would you take someone else's milk if your baby needed it?" I had to stop and think of it and I realized how heart wrenching it must be for a mom who wants to nurse, but for whatever reason can’t. In the end my final answer was yes, I know breast milk is the best and if I couldn’t provide it I would hope I could find someone who could.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Looking back

My friend just told me of her friend’s first experiences with breastfeeding and I found myself wishing that nurses and hospitals were more educated on the matter. If you have had your child in a hospital it is very easy to see why breastfeeding is not a normal practice in America. The night Emily was born I tried to feed her, but of course she was too tired from being born. Then started the parade of nurses every two hours, “Did she eat yet?!?” “She has to eat!” Of course she wasn’t hungry yet. Breastfeeding is something mother and child has to learn how to do together maybe with the help of an experienced mother who has been there and done that. Not a 22 year old, childless nurse who has the rule memorized if the baby doesn’t nurse feed it a bottle. I had no idea what I was doing and was so worried my baby wouldn’t eat we gave her a bottle. Seeing her chug that milk down was so satisfying I can see why most moms give-up. Breastfeeding you can only see the time go by, there is no mL measurement on your breast showing it full and then empty; just our own mothering instincts. Unfortunately as a new mother the nurse’s insistence on feedings drown out the quiet whisper of our divinely appointed instincts and more often than not we relinquish to the louder noise.

My daughter took three bottles of formula total; one in the hospital and two at home in the middle of the night when I was desperate to get her to sleep longer. It was so difficult getting the formula made and warmed up while she cried and cried I finally gave in and just nursed. To me it was easier; I couldn’t stand hearing her cry because it just seemed to pierce my heart. The real motivation for my continued breastfeeding success was the advice I got from a nurse as we parted ways, “buy The Breastfeeding Book by Dr. Sears, it will tell you all you need to know about breastfeeding”. Well the day after we got home my husband was sent out to buy it, I was having such a difficult time getting started it seemed hopeless to me, but somewhere beneath the postpartum blues I felt a deep need to breastfeed my daughter. I read The Breastfeeding Book in about a week, I looked forward to late night feedings to read which fed my desire and gave me the power to overcome all the obstacles I was to face; bleeding, mastitis, a nursing strike, thrush upon thrush with more thrush, pumping at work, and even two weeks apart.

Of course there are plenty of moms out there who overcame those problems with no help other than their desire to breastfeed. Those are truly amazing moms.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Toddler nursing

Anyone who has nursed a toddler knows how fun this is :)
Milk seems to taste better upside down.

Two week seperation

Speaking of the reserves, I decided to do a research project/case study to see if my daughter would continue nursing after being apart for my two week active duty training. Here are my findings minus the research which I am still working on and will write up for publication in Attachment Parenting International's newsletter next spring.

The topic of my study was decided upon because I was required to take a two week business trip at a time when my 16 month old daughter was still an avid breast feeder. I spoke with a coworker who had similar experience a year earlier with her then 16 month old son and she had decided the absence meant they had to wean and so she weaned him about a month before leaving. When she returned her son had a readjustment period where he would not go to her and then after that she told me how he still fell asleep holding her breast as if it was a source of comfort. My hypothesis was based on her experience; if I continued nursing until the day I left and then offered to nurse upon returned (keeping up my milk supply by pumping) then my daughter would readjust to my return quickly, have a less traumatic separation, and continue the breast feeding relationship.
I began preparing two weeks before leaving. Up until then I had only been pumping milk once a day while at work and then nursing her on demand while we were together. At two weeks prior to leaving I started pumping twice a day and then with only one week until I left was pumping three times a day. This was based on knowledge that it is easier to produce milk the more I am around my daughter. Before I left I was pumping 300mL of milk during the weekdays and nursing on the following schedule; 10 to 20 minute sessions at 430am, 330pm, 530pm (this is usually for 20 to 30 minutes), 730pm, and then throughout the night averaging about 2 times between 900pm and 415am. As my daughter was 16 months old she was supplementing solid foods and juice or water during the day. She had refused taking any form of milk other than directly from my breast since she was 12 months old and at that same time refused the bottle.
I left on Sunday morning and provided my husband with 6 bags of fresh milk (pumped during the earlier week). He offered her this milk throughout the first week in a bottle and then from a cup and she refused it every time. Throughout my absence the only contact I had with her was over the phone (voice only) or over the internet (voice and video) via a webcam. My husband noted that each time we spoke she would calm down and I noticed she recognized me and would smile during our online conversations. Several times over the two weeks she would be upset and then hear my voice over the phone and calm down. I believe a lot of this was separation anxiety. Our first day apart my husband noted that she did not sleep well (we practice co-sleeping) and when she woke up she immediately went walking through the whole house as if searching for me. Our sitter noted that when her grandmother picked her up that day, which is the routine, she was very excited. I believe that was in anticipation of my scheduled pick up from her grandmother’s, which the routine was before I left. My husband noted this anticipation behavior lasted the first two days we were separated. While we were apart my husband tended my daughter during the evening, morning, and weekends and her usual sitter (my husband’s cousin) and my mother-in-law tended her during the day. She kept her normal routine while I was absent except I work 6am to 3pm and would pick her up by 330pm and my husband works 8am to 5pm so he could not pick her up until 520pm.
On a personal level I would be tempted to argue this separation was more difficult on me then on my daughter. I not only had to deal with the daily tasks required for my work, but also pumping at least six times a day, and the stress/guilt/separation anxiety a mother feels being away from her child. The first day was especially difficult and I found that pumping forced me to take time to reconnect with my daughter in my mind and relaxed me. I used pumping as a form of relaxation the first week as it seemed I was calmer after I was done than before I had started. Notably I noticed my heart rate seemed to lower and my mind clearer and able to focus better. The contact over the phone and internet also helped me to stay connected with my daughter during this time.
The first three days were the most difficult. It seemed as if my breasts were accustomed to the nursing schedule my daughter and I had established and when that changed I suffered from engorgement (from not nursing or pumping at night). I had not anticipated this so I did not plan to pump during the night and only did so early in the morning if I woke up in pain. The first day I was unable to sleep and found that two times I had to massage the milk ducts in order to get milk flowing during pumping times. The second day I felt some nipple pain most likely caused by the pump so I applied lanolin cream and turned down the setting on my pump. The third day was the most difficult, I work up at 320am with severe engorgement and pain and was only able to pump 60mL which did not relieve the pain. I also noticed I had a low grade fever, 100F which I associated with the engorgement. When I woke up at 610am I immediately pumped again hoping to relieve more of the engorgement and found I was not able to pump any milk. This was very distressing so after 5 minutes I stopped for a warm shower and used the warm water as a way to relieve some of the pain from engorgement. After that I was able to pump 100mL and felt considerably better not only physically, but emotionally seeing that I could still produce milk boosted my moral. I felt some of my symptoms may be mastitis so I contacted my OBGYN and discussed the symptoms with the nurse and was told to alternate warm and cold compresses and watch to be sure my fever does not go over 101F. While this was the correct information to get I felt somewhat distraught over it because I felt my pain was severe enough that it was an infection and I was concerned that without antibiotics it would not get better. Since I did not have access to cold compresses I used the shower as my warm compress and began expressing milk during my showers starting that night. This step alone relieved nearly all the fullness and engorgement I had been feeling. I found during this separation the pump was not as adequate at emptying my breasts as my daughter’s nursing was.
On the 5th day I felt my supply was dwindling in spite of my pumping efforts so I began drinking whole milk in hopes it would help my supply. This first day I noticed a dramatic increase after drinking milk and began drinking 3 to 4 glasses each morning. My supply became steady after this day and I felt very confident that I could continue the supply until returning to my daughter. I believe the milk was positively affecting my supply as I noticed my daughter had a reaction to the whole milk I had been drinking even though I had my last glass Friday morning and did not nurse her until more than 12 hours later and after several pumping sessions.
After the fourth day my body seemed to have adjusted to the change and I did not feel as engorged in the morning as I had been. I continued pumping 6 times throughout the day until the day I returned home.
There was an exceptional amount of stress related to this project in addition to the physical pain and difficulties I experienced I ran into many difficulties finding time and places to pump. My two week separation was to serve two weeks of active duty as a Navy Reservist so I may have experienced more difficulties than others might have in this respect. I was the only female in my group to ever request time to pump and found the course leaders were not as understanding as I expected they might be. I found it easier not to mention and just disappear for my own pump time throughout the day after discussing it with one of the administrators of the course I was taking. Several days I was unable to pump on a regular schedule so I had to supplement with two pumping times close together before and after the scheduled events.
I also was distressed to have to throw away the milk I was producing and was so concerned this might affect my supply (my breast feeding experiences thus far showed a lot of it is mind over matter) I would close my eyes and turn on the water in the sink before throwing it away so I could not hear it and would not see the milk being dumped. This was not as much of a problem the second week as I felt I had made it far enough that my supply was not in danger of drying up and the time was nearing when I would be reunited with my daughter.
At the end of these two weeks I found for my case my hypothesis was correct. My daughter continued nursing and I even found she nursed more than she had before and I felt we were able to reestablish our bond as mother and daughter easier thanks to continued breastfeeding. The day I returned my daughter recognized me right away at the air port and came running to me. She then insisted I only hold her the rest of the time we were at the air port. She did not immediately request to nurse, however after I asked if she wanted to nurse she requested it twice and nursed for 5 minutes each time within a 20 minute time frame. I did not feel as though she was getting much milk at that point, it was almost as if she was testing to see if there was still a milk supply after so long. Once we returned home she nursed long enough to start the flow of milk and continued nursing for 30 minutes. The next two weeks she nursed more intently then she had before I left. After two weeks being home she has gotten back into the same nursing routine we had previously established and seems to feel comfortable that I will not be leaving again soon.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

For as long as you both shall nurse…

I’m a Navy Reservist and yesterday I had a 6 hour physical. Aside from being extremely fun (not) it was long enough that I had to pump at least once less I make a puddle on the floor and soak the little gown they gave me to wear while waiting for the doctor. I asked the nurse if, since the wait would be at least 30 more minutes, I could sneak out to pump milk for my daughter and then come back. We’ll this caused a very big commotion that surprisingly ended every nice. I expected to get lectured about why nursing my 18m old daughter was not needed and even if I was, why was I pushing do to it right then. Instead I found an understanding gentleman that mentioned to me “It is a shame that breastfeeding is looked upon so negatively in the US. In other countries it is normal to see women walking down the street and feeding their baby.” He then let me borrow his office so I had a chair and not a toilet to sit on and even let me keep my pump in his office instead of the baggage area. That was a pleasant surprise; I was ready for a fight.

There is only one thing that can be said about the length of time you nurse, it should be according to you and your child’s desires not your in-law, parents, best friend, or neighbors. The World Health Organization recommends two years and I honestly believe I can see the difference between my daughter and other children that weren’t nursed as long and the benefits (I feel) are far beyond medical in nature.

Extended breastfeeding may not be for some people, but let’s be less judgmental and more understanding. We are only trying to be the best parents we can be.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My daily pumping sessions. Mooo…

I already went over the schedule of my pumping sessions, but I thought I would add this funny story. A while back a purchased a hands free pumping bra “dohicky” it wasn’t really a bra just a Velcro strap I would wear when I was pumping that held the bottles in place.
Well I was carrying it to my little pumping closet at work one day and my friend asked me what the white Velcro strap was for, I told her and she laughed and said “mooo”. At first I thought, hey I’m not a cow just a milking mama, and then while pumping I looked down at my hands free kit milking away and pictured in my mind a photo of a milk cow getting milked by the machines at a dairy farm. I laughed outloud and even did a little “moo” myself.

It’s all mind over matter…

As far as supply goes I have found it is a case of mind over matter. Just like the Little Engine That Could, you can provide enough milk for your baby if you believe you can. I have to note there are exceptions to every rule, but for the most part this is true. If you want a good supply then nurse a lot especially at night. Co-sleeping works great to build up supply, or if you not comfortable with that then you can pump on one side and nurse off the other at each night feeding. I did this for about a month and it not only increased my supply, it also helped me build up a good supply of froze milk for when I returned to work.

For keeping up a supply at work it is all about your commitment to pumping, the more you pump the more you’ll make. The first few months are hard and exhausting. Some days I would finish pumping and feel like I had just ran a race. Depending on how long you are at work you should set up a schedule and stick to it. Even if you are busy pump for 5 minutes, everyone can take a 5 minute break to regroup and it’s very relaxing. This commitment to a pumping routine will help keep your mind on your baby helping build a deeper bond.

Here’s my pumping schedule and how it changed as my daughter grew:

3 months to 10 months old
4 times a day, once before work at about 630am, once at each 15 minute break (9am and 2pm) and once at lunch (1200pm)

At 10 months I dropped the pre-work pump and went to 3 times a day because my daughter was eating solids and just not interested in my frozen milk.

Once she turned a year old I dropped it down to twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I only did this to keep up my supply; all the pumped milk gets donated. I tried going to just once a day pumping in the morning, but my supply really dropped and my daughter would get upset with the lack of milk when she would nurse at night.

When I am with my daughter we nurse whenever and wherever she wants for the most part.

My grandmother tells me that working moms are special and I truly believe that. I’m happy to talk to anyone who wants to work on building up their supply or has questions about working and nursing. It helps to have a friend who’s been there and done that.

Monday, July 7, 2008

What I wish I knew before I started breastfeeding…

There are two things that helped me get through the first few weeks of nursing which turned out to be very painful and trying thanks to my lack of knowledge; first was reading and learning all I could about breastfeeding and second was actually an add for breastfeeding in a parenting magazine (I can’t remember the name or the exact words) basically it was a mom talking about having a very painful experience nursing and promising her husband to keep it up for the first 6 weeks and by the time that came around it was hurting much less and at two months she was completely healed and loving nursing. I decided after reading that I could stick it out for two months and it was true, at two months nursing was no longer a painful sacrifice I was making for my child it was actually an indulgence and something I loved doing (especially when my daughter would fall asleep at my breast).

Now here’s my list of what I wish I knew before I started breastfeeding:
Nursing doesn’t always come naturally so learn all you can about it before you start.
Get support, any nursing mom would love to give you advise or tell you it’s going to be ok, there are groups too and I highly recommend joining and attending meetings with your local Le Leche League group.
It’s ok to ask for help and cry, if only I’d known this. I was such an emotional wreck and so clueless I didn’t seek out support and ask questions until my daughter was 1 year old.
It will take time, but if you figure how long it takes to get a bottle ready and then clean them after nursing is big time saver, not to mention the milk comes pre-warmed at 246am.
Don’t set a time limit for how long you will nurse, originally I said three months and that’s it. My daughter is 18 months old and we still both lover our nursing sessions. If you do the other four steps you’ll find it will be worth going as long as possible.
Hide the clocks for the first few weeks. You can sleep whenever you baby sleeps so don’t worry if it’s 246am and this will work even better if you co-sleep.
The house will get dirty so stop fussing. Nursing is such a commitment on your part that other things have to be let go or you just can’t keep up and something will give. Ask a relative to help, or just stop worrying about it. There will come a day when your house is always in order and spotlessly clean and you will miss the days when it was a disaster because you were spending all of your energy and time holding a brand new baby.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Begining


This is the story of my nursing experiences in hopes it may help others.

To introduce myself; I am a premed student and married mother of one. My breastfeeding started off on the wrong foot (or nipple if you prefer). First I had NO idea what I was doing. When my mom asked me (less than a week before my daughter was born), "Do you have any nursing bras?" My reply was, "why would I need a special bra, I was just going to use the ones I have?" So you can see how clueless I really was.

Over the past 18 months my relationship with breastfeeding has transformed from clueless to lcativist. My purpose for pursuing medical school is to promote breastfeeding. I truely believe the best start for all children is at a loving mother's breast and that start should be encouraged and supported by the medical profession.

I will have more posts to come on anything and everything breastfeeding related. Please feel free to visit often and leave comments on what you would like to see next.

-AJ Lewis