What Does Pumping Past the First Birthday Look Like?

12 Jun

On our Facebook page, a mama asked about resources for moms that are pumping past one year. Unfortunately, there is very little information about this topic, most likely because so few moms continue to pump for their children after that magic first birthday “deadline”. The American Academy of Pediatrics states their recommendation as follows:

…exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months of a baby’s life, followed by breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of complementary foods until at least 12 months of age, and continuation of breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby. (AAP 2012)

The final portion of the statement, “as long as mutually desired,” is a little vague, and so most people cling to that “12 months of age” as the definitive word on how long mothers should supply breastmilk for their babies. In contrast, the World Health Organization statement is:

Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond. (WHO 2015)

Recommendations aside, moms who exclusively pump, or who work full time and pump to supply breast milk to their children during separation, have many hurdles to overcome to continue providing their milk.

Typically, supply issues are a common concern. As the infant grows into a toddler, moms begin to increase the amount of solids they give to their children and decrease bottle feeds. The change in demand will effect the supply, since moms won’t feel so pressured to provide as many ounces, and begin to phase out a pumping session or two. A pregnancy can also negatively impact supply. “I think that I would have continued to pump until my supply dwindled to the point where it didn’t make sense anymore,” Amanda Glenn, author of Exclusive Pumping and Milk Supply, told me. For her, that meant only 1-2 ounces per day, but after the pregnancy, her supply dipped so much that she weaned her son. Moms also get really tired of pumping. I asked Alina L, another mom who pumped while working full time, what she thought about it. “Pumping is not fun,” she said. “I think everyone loves hitting that one year mark when they can ‘hang up the horns’.”

Most of the general rules about pumping for an infant also apply to pumping for a toddler. Moms need to fit pumping sessions in when they can, have enough pumping sessions to fill the demand of your child, and use relaxation and hands-on pumping techniques to get the most out of your breasts. Some things do get easier as your baby grows. “You don’t need to pump as often, as [a] toddler rel[ies] less on breastmilk and more on solids,” Amanda said. “Generally, you can schedule pumping sessions while they are sleeping, and toddler sleep tends to be more predictable than infant sleep.” For moms that pump at work and breastfeed directly from the breast when together, weekends can be a “catch-up” time in order to boost supply without worrying about the breast pump.

What about other challenges?

Alina told me that cluster-feeding and reverse cycling were common in her experience. “A lot of working moms are not prepped for the cluster nursing and nighttime nursing,” she said. “[They] also get trapped because baby wakes up at 5am and wanted[sic] to cluster feed then Mom cannot take a shower and get dressed. […] I used to suggest setting an alarm for 4am and do a dream feed with baby.” (A dream feed is when you put baby to the breast while they are sleeping, and they nurse without waking.) She does note that this will result in less sleep for mom, so it is a personal decision whether or not you choose to do this.

Many moms are concerned about their supply dwindling as they cut down on pumping sessions. I asked Alina if pumping was necessary to continue a breastfeeding relationship if the mom needs to work. “No,” she said, “you can always give formula during the day and breastfeed when you are together. And you have to be willing to get up at night.” Amanda began introducing cow’s milk after the first year, by mixing it with breast milk in the bottles. “I started adding a splash (literally about a tablespoon) to my son’s bottles, just to see what happened [and] if he’d take it. He took it just fine, and I gradually increased the amount until the bottles were completely cows milk,” she said. Alina noted that many pumping moms she knew continued pumping past one year due to allergies to things like cow’s milk. If allergies aren’t an issue, moms may not need to pump during separation and continue breastfeeding when together.

What final advice do these moms have for moms who pump past one year?

Amanda said, “I would say to keep going as long as it makes sense for YOU. You have given your baby a great gift by pumping for as long as you have, and you should keep it up as long as you think that it’s worth it and that pumping makes sense as part of your life. When it becomes a dreaded chore, or you want your pumping time back to do other things, or you cannot handle getting one more clogged duct, it’s 100% okay to stop.”

Alina brought up something I hadn’t considered. “First advice is to check [the] laws of [your] state. Some states only protect pumping moms until baby is age 1.” BABE is based in Texas, and there are no laws here that protect working moms at all. (As of this writing, a bill is being heard in the Texas Senate to fix this. Read more here.) Alina also advised that pumps need to be maintained, and tubes and membranes need to be replaced regularly. The manufacturer of your pump will be able to help you with that. Her final tidbit was that “[m]any women experience a supply dip starting at ovulation and continuing until cycle starts. Taking calcium/mag throughout the entire month steadily can help avoid this.”

Pumping and/or working moms! What is your best advice for pumping past one year? Give us your experiences! There are so few articles out there, but I know you are out there!

Amanda Glenn is the creator of ExclusivelyPumping.com. You can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/exclusivepumping

The opinions expressed belong to the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of Bay Area Breastfeeding and Education.

To “Our” Mommas

16 Mar

ImageIt never ceases to amaze us how quickly trust is established as we cross the threshold of your sacred space.

Such a tiny moment in our lives, we feel privileged to join you in such a big part of your life.

You may be feeling vulnerable, unsure of yourself, desperate for help and reassurance that you are “doing things right.”

You have cried tears of joy and tears of frustration…and sometimes we have cried with you.  

A bond of friendship has formed in many cases, and you’ve paid us the highest compliment of

inviting us back with the birth of your next sweet baby.

Little do you know how much we think of you and sometimes agonize over our inability to “fix” things for you.  

But we know our most important job is to empower you, and we will walk along side of you for as long as you need us.  

We are overjoyed when you reach out to us down the road to let us how things are going

regardless of your ultimate feeding decision.

Often we live vicariously through you, remembering our own days as new mommas and the

feelings we had as we snuggled our own soft, warm little bundles, only wanting to give our very best to them.

We learn from you everyday, and you allow us to share your struggles so that others may learn, too.

When our feet cross that threshold, we have nothing but

respect for your space.

We honor your courage and commitment.

We stand in awe of your strength.

And we marvel at the bond that has so quickly formed between you and your baby…

A true picture of perfection.

We love you and your baby.  

Thank you for allowing us to play a small part in your mothering journey.

image: www.freedigitalphotos.net, moggara 12

Tips for Mothers Who Exclusively Pump

10 Mar

A version of this blog appeared on the San Diego Breastfeeding Center blog. Reprinted with permission.

Whether exclusive pumping is a decision or a necessity due to surrounding circumstances, there are several things you can do to make your efforts more successful.

Start early

We know that the earlier after birth you begin expressing, milk production is set up for long-term success.  Hand expression of colostrum is often more effective than pumping in the early days and can increase your milk supply even when you begin using a pump.  You may not reach full production until around 10 days, so be patient as amounts in the early days may be very small. Here’s a fantastic video from Jane Morton at Stanford University, demonstrating Hand Expression

Pump often

In the beginning, plan to pump about 8 times in 24 hours, for anywhere from 15-20 minutes per session.  Once you have reached full production, you can generally decrease your number of pumping sessions to 6 or 7 times a day.  You may also find you can express for 10-15 minutes and be done.

Plan to rent a multi-user hospital grade pump and later purchase a single user double-electric pump to establish and maintain your milk supply.

Initially, a hospital grade pump is key to reaching full milk production.  Let’s put it this way: the hospital-grade pump is like the Ferrari and the double-electric you can purchase is similar to a Toyota.  The motor is far superior in the hospital-grade pump, but it is too expensive to purchase, therefore we recommend renting one.  The double-electric is much more affordable, yet is best for maintaining a supply, rather than bringing one in.

Ensure a good flange fit and consider having more than one flange size available.

A poor flange fit can cause breast and/or nipple damage and pain.  It can also decrease the amount of milk you are able to pump. Check out this article about finding the correct pump flange size.

Pump hands-free

Purchase a hands-free bra or make one out of an old sports bra but cutting small slits where the flanges would fit.  Your hands will now be free to massage that ‘hard-to-get-out’ milk that pools in the periphery of the breast.

Use hands-on pumping

You can maximize your pump output by using breast massage as you pump hands free. We LOVE this video on how to maximize your pumping output using breast massage!

Learn some relaxation techniques to promote milk let-down

Take some deep breaths after you turn on your pump.  Put on some relaxing music.  Think about how amazing your body is as it provides warmth and nourishment to your baby.  If you need a mental break, dive into one of your favorite magazines.  This will help the time fly by!

Focus on your baby

Whether you have your baby near or you have to be away, you can focus on your baby by thinking about him and listening to a recording of him cooing or making sweet baby noises.  Have an item nearby that smells like your baby and place a picture in your pump bag (or on your phone).

Prepare to store your milk

There are a variety of bags and containers to safely store your milk in.  Bags made specifically for milk storage take up the least amount of room and will lay flat in your freezer.  Click here for current milk storage guidelines

Set up a pump station at home and/or at work

Have everything you need for pumping within arms’ reach.  Also have some water available to sip on, the TV remote or a book if that is how you choose to relax, a snack, and perhaps your headphones.

Listen to The Boob Group podcast episode, Maximize Your Breast Pumping Sessions

Sometimes just listening to helpful ideas from other moms can help normalize your situation, as well as motivate you.  These moms have made pumping work for them and so can you!

And finally, keep up the great work!

Remember, whether you baby is going to the breast or not, every drop counts!  You are providing a life-long gift to your baby.  And every minute you spend providing breastmilk to your baby is worth it.

What tricks worked best for you while exclusively pumping?

Why I Became A Lactation Consultant: My Experience with Baby Wise

30 Jan
Photo by Kelly Roth Photography, http://kellyrothphotography.com/

Photo by Kelly Roth Photography, http://kellyrothphotography.com/

I was pregnant with my first baby and eager to gather all the information I could to smoothly transition from life with just the two of us, to life with three.  (Of course, in the early days, it is everything but a smooth transition!)

I learned about a class for expectant parents called “Prep for Parenting.”  It was a class to give you guidance in parenting with Biblical principles.  There were two big draws for me.  First, being a person of faith, I thought this would be the way to go to follow a Biblical parenting style.  And second, it all but guaranteed that if you followed their guide your baby would be sleeping through the night by 8 weeks.  Yes!  I love sleep!

Obviously, though I was a mother/baby nurse, I knew nothing about a mom and baby’s physiology as a dyad; that even though the umbilical cord had been cut, mom and baby are still connected.  They are one.  I was taught the facts in nursing school, not about what happened after the pair was discharged from the hospital.  I had no idea how it felt to be a mom or how a mother’s instinct kicks in and is such an intimate part of parenting.

Labor Day arrived, and I never imagined how in love I would be with this little person.  The instincts to hold her, touch her and feed her overwhelmed me.  I even took a warm bath with her right after delivery.  She cuddled next to me, she took naps on my chest, and she took naps on my husband’s chest.  From birth, she was given that feeling of security.

Then I allowed book knowledge to override my instinct as a mother.  We had decided prior to delivery that she would not sleep in the bed with us.  The cradle was already prepared for her beside our bed.  I would breastfeed her and she would fall asleep; we would swaddle her and put her down in her cradle.  You know, because you weren’t supposed to hold the baby while she was sleeping because you would spoil her.    And when she fussed and it had only been an hour since she ate and surely she couldn’t be hungry yet, you were supposed to just let her fuss because she was manipulating you so you would pick her up.  If you picked her up, she would learn that all she had to do was fuss or cry to get picked up.

I am positive that this school of thought adversely affected our breastfeeding journey.   The first two days, I developed bruised and painful nipples.  My milk came in at day 2 1/2.  And day 3 was one of the worst days of my life.  My breasts became so engorged that she could not get latched on properly, and my nipples went from sore to open wounds.  She would scream, and I would cry.

I dreaded feedings, and latch attempts curled my toes.  That day, my family members held her more than I did.  I couldn’t stand having anything up near my breasts.  I tried pumping milk out to relieve engorgement, but I could hardly express any milk.  A feeding would end (well, I would think she was done when she fell asleep at the breast), and I would hand her to my husband, mom or mother-in-law.  Then an hour later, she would cry to eat again.  But I didn’t know that.  I thought that surely she could not be hungry again.  So she would be soothed by someone until the 3 hour mark had been reached.  We were supposed to keep to some kind of schedule.  She had to be taught that she was not the center of the universe.  In that second week, we began putting her in her crib awake to teach her how to soothe herself.  We were supposed to let her cry it out until she fell asleep.  It went against every motherly instinct I possessed.  My husband even bought a video monitor at my insistence so that at least I could monitor her to make sure she was OK.

Through those first 8 weeks I developed an infection on one of my nipples, I thought I developed thrush, I had 3 bouts of mastitis, and I stayed engorged.  Though everyone told me to just keep breastfeeding on that wound, that it would get better, I decided to nurse exclusively on one breast and pump the wounded one.  Pumping was even painful.  The position of the wound was such that pumping with too much suction caused it to break open, setting back the healing process.  At one time I was able to pump 8 ounces out of that breast.

I didn’t know she could get enough nursing from one breast, so I would attempt to bottle feed her with pumped milk after every nursing session.  I would offer her 4 ounces!  Constant doubt flooded my mind.  How could I be so clueless?

After almost 3 months, I was finally comfortable with breastfeeding.  I feel now that I missed out on enjoying the first 3 months of my firstborn’s life.  I vowed that with my next baby I would throw out that book – and I did.  I experienced none of the same breastfeeding problems with him.

In the next 10 years, helping other moms breastfeed became my passion.  I knew what I was meant to do.  I traded floor nursing for childbirth and breastfeeding education.  La Leche League became an integral part of the breastfeeding journeys with all of my babies.  I eventually became an accredited leader.  No mom should ever have to go through what I went through.

Almost 10 years to the day of the birth of my baby girl, I realized my dream and took the board exam to become a lactation consultant.  That day for me represented my journey as a parent, a mom, and an educator.  I was not the same person.  What a paradigm shift!

On Becoming Baby Wise contradicts the physiology of mom and baby as one and can sabotage breastfeeding and interrupt the development of trust and security.  It is based on the premise that the baby needs to understand that his parents will not succumb his attempts to manipulate.

Baby Wise says the child is not the center of the universe.
I know that a baby cannot take care of himself.  His needs must be met, and mom is the primary caregiver.  Being a parent means that parts of your life before baby may be put on hold for the time being.

Baby Wise says that early on, he must learn to self soothe.
I know that he has only one childhood to share with you.  When you soothe him, he learns to trust that his needs will be met.

Baby Wise says that to learn to self soothe, he must be allowed to cry it out until he can fall asleep on his own.  If he falls asleep at the breast or while being held, he needs to be put down.
I know that crying it out can adversely affect baby physically and developmentally.  Holding a baby while he is sleeping or nursing him to sleep will not spoil him.

Baby Wise says that he must sleep in his own bed.  Bed-sharing is not safe.
I know that babies need to be close to mom.  Bed-sharing is encouraged if guidelines for safe bed-sharing are followed.

Baby Wise says that by 8 weeks, he should physiologically be able to sleep through the night without needing to eat.
I know that a baby’s ability to sleep through the night is up to the baby past the first two months.  He knows when he needs to eat and when he doesn’t, just as we know when we need to eat and when we need to stop.  Each baby is physiologically able to sleep through the night at different ages and stages of development.

Baby Wise says that crying in between feedings does not mean baby is hungry.  He is trying to manipulate his parents to pick him up, therefore teaching him that he can get what he wants every time he cries.
I know that a baby’s cries are not cries of manipulation.  Crying is the only way he can communicate that he has a need:  to eat, to be changed, to be warmed up, to be cooled down, to be close and snuggled, to feel secure, to sleep.

Baby Wise says that to develop a sense of healthy independence, a firm schedule of feeding and naps needs to be established early on or chaos will rule.
I know that responding to his needs so that he can develop a sense of trust and security helps him develop healthy independence.  Cue feeding is important to decrease risks for engorgement, mastitis, inadequate baby weight gain, and inadequate milk supply.

I grieve the time I spent early on trying to enforce guidelines that told me to do things counter to my instincts as a mother and things that weren’t evidenced based.  I believe my bond with my firstborn to this day is not what it should be.  But I set aside the mom guilt and moved forward to become who I am.  We know our experiences shape us.  My first breastfeeding experience now drives me to exhaust my resources to work hard to prevent these issues or to help a mom overcome them early on.

Were you ever made to go against your instincts when it came to parenting and breastfeeding? What would you tell other moms in this situation?

Everything But the Kitchen Sink: 10 Things to Put in Your Consult Bag That Don’t Include a Scale

19 Aug

1113495-Clipart-3d-Tooth-Brush-With-Sparly-Blue-Gel-Paste-On-The-Bristles-Royalty-Free-Vector-Illustration1. A change of clothes, especially if you have another consult to go to. And the day you don’t, you will be peed on, pooped on or spit up on.

2. Antibacterial wipes to “sponge bathe” when you get in your car when you get peed on, pooped on, or spit up on and the pee, poop or spit up goes on your skin instead of your clothes, and you don’t want to go into the bathroom of a seedy gas station to use their sink (which you didn’t pack) for water to wash yourself off.

3. A client consent and chart along with an extra consent and chart when your business partner calls you to go see another mom in distress when you thought you only had one visit.

4. And if you forget your chart, you can use the notebook of blank paper that you have also packed in your bag, along with the extra pen.

5. An extra phone charger, because believe me, when you are headed into the boondocks with a dead phone, which equals no GPS, a small amount of panic rises until you find that seedy gas station that sells cheap phone chargers.

6. A mirror to check your teeth, because you don’t have your sink to brush your teeth (remember you are packing everything but the sink) when you are on the run and snacking between consults on the trail mix you also packed in your bag because you know you won’t have time for lunch.

7. Breath mints or gum to cover up your stinky breath (because you don’t have your sink to brush your teeth after the snacking you are doing between consults because you don’t have time for lunch).

8. Deodorant in case you run out the door and forget to put it on because walking from the house to the car in the Texas heat barely gives you enough time to apply before you start stinkin’.

9. Cash for the time you forget to put your debit card back into your purse and it ends up in the wash because you put it in your pocket because you had to stop for gas due to the 250 miles you had already traveled the day before.

10. Socks without holes because when you take your shoes off before going into a mom’s house you notice your big toe is sticking out of your sock and you have another client to see.

And you thought there were only going to be ten…

Number 11 and most important…your sense of humor… for when you get peed on, pooped on, or spit up on and forgot a change of clothes, when you smell spit up on your arm and forgot antibacterial wipes, when you forget your chart and your blank notebook and have to ask your client for paper, when you are late to a consult because you are stuck in the boondocks without GPS, when you realize when you get back into the car you have a raisin stuck in your teeth because you forgot your mirror, when the snack you brought is garlic flavored and you forgot gum, when you have to keep your arms as close to your side during your visits because your armpits are sweating because you forgot your deodorant, when you have to call your husband to bring gas because you forgot your extra cash when your debit card did not end up back in your purse, and for when you have to apologize to the second client for your hole-y socks because you forgot your un-hole-y socks.

What do you find you need for your consults?

Take Off the Gloves: It’s Not The Boob Bashers Vs. The Lactation Snobs

13 Aug

boxing ring“In one corner, we have Fanny Formula-Feeder,

and in the other corner stands Betsy Breast-Feeder.”

Ding, ding, ding!  Who will you bet on? 

Who will get the KO and leave the other walking down the path of shame?

Sounds very corny, I know…but isn’t that what we as moms are doing? 

Duking it out over each other’s pregnancy, birth and parenting decisions?

Technology has enabled us to share our opinions with virtually the whole world.   Perhaps two of the hottest topics of discussion among women of childbearing age all over the world are how you feed your baby and breastfeeding in public.  These may be as common as such topics as your due date, your baby’s gender, and whether or not you will have an epidural.  Moms flock to Facebook pages and groups seeking advice on all their parenting decisions from pregnancy to preschool and beyond.  Unfortunately, there will always be those who seem to cast judgment on moms who choose options that are different from their own.  Often, instead of encountering support, moms come across discouraging comments leaving them confused and unsure of their choices.

Moms who made the decision to formula feed from birth feel they are being judged.

“Why didn’t you at least give breastfeeding a try?”

Moms who made the decision to exclusively breastfeed from birth feel they are being judged.

“You know you’ll get less sleep.  Your baby will just use you as a pacifier.”

Moms who tried breastfeeding and then switched to formula feel they are being judged.

“Breastfeeding was tough for me in the beginning, too.  But we hung in there and made it work.”

Moms who choose baby-led weaning feel they are being judged.

“You haven’t weaned that baby yet?  There aren’t any benefits past a year.”

Moms who decide to pump exclusively and feed breastmilk in a bottle feel like they are being judged.

“Bottle feeding breastmilk isn’t the same.  Babies don’t bond with moms the same way that babies fed at the breast do.”

Moms who decide to cover up while nursing in public are judged. 

“Covering up sends the message that it’s not appropriate to nurse uncovered.”

Moms who decide not to cover up while nursing in public are being judged.

“No one wants to see exposed breasts in public; cover up.” or “Can I show you a more private place to feed your baby?”

Regardless of whether statements made are fact or not, words, spoken and/or written, can have an enormous impact.  “Well, we have the choice whether or not to be offended and can choose to ignore,” you say; however, first-time moms early in their experience are vulnerable and may be teetering on the edge.  Confidence levels are shot, decisions are second-guessed.  They may hole up in their homes to avoid scrutiny and depend on the internet for socializing. ( I wonder if there may be a correlation here between isolation and post-partum depression?)

I don’t believe comments are made maliciously.  Often moms are simply voicing their struggles, seeking to justify their decisions, and looking for support without condition.

How a mom feeds her baby is a personal decision.  Isn’t that what our culture encourages?  Choice?  You don’t know the whole picture.  You can’t see the whole picture on social media sites like Facebook.

Bay Area Breastfeeding & Education wholeheartedly supports breastfeeding as nature’s way…what our bodies are made to do.  But we aren’t the momma, and the baby is not ours.  Leah and I are advocates for more moms breastfeeding and more babies getting breastmilk; however, we work for the whole family and moms and their goals.  Our practice is evidenced based, and we provide accurate information.  It is then up to the mom to make the choice.  The BABEs pride ourselves in meeting moms where they are on the breastfeeding spectrum.  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  There will be be no judgment cast on moms who decide to exclusively breastfeed or exclusively pump and bottle feed breastmilk or moms who breastfeed part-time and formula feed to meet baby’s need or moms who formula feed exclusively.

So, are you a boob basher or a lactation snob?  Strive to be a Mommy Advocate instead:

                       

Respect other moms’ choices.

Realize that words can make an impact.

Provide support to all fellow moms regardless of their decisions.

Be confident in your decisions.

Realize you are making the best choice for yourself and your whole family.

Remind yourself that often you don’t know the mom personally and can’t see the whole picture.

Choose to offer support without condition.

This doesn’t mean we back down from our convictions and opinions.  This doesn’t mean we ignore or water down the facts.  We can be radical in a way that is respectful.  Let’s spend our time being Mommy Advocates and finding ways to educate families prenatally instead of spending time arguing amongst ourselves.  Breastfeeding support should start before pregnancy.

 What are some other ways you can offer unconditional support to moms?

Jenny’s Story

5 Aug

Jenny and Mia

Jenny and Mia

I always knew I would breastfeed my baby. I believe breastfeeding is how our babies were meant to get nourishment – of course if there was a reason I couldn’t then I was willing to accept that, but I come from a long line of very maternal women so that, coupled with my dedication I knew we would make it.

What I wasn’t prepared for was how difficult the first month is. One would imagine that if we are equipped to feed our babies and that is how they are meant to survive then it would be a no brainer right?

Well I was one of the more fortunate ones, one of my dearest friends had a daughter a few years before me and insisted we use her birth doula – and that is where the knowledge began to flow. One of our birthing classes was dedicated to the BABEs and it was more material than I ever thought would be needed. I was grateful, I felt as though I was now armed with information, and that alone can be a savior.

As my pregnancy progressed I was feeling ready and calm and excited to be a mother. The 36 week ultrasound arrived and we found out our little girl was breech – I always knew she would walk to the beat of her own drum but didn’t think it would happen that soon! I started to fear, since I had never even had a tooth pulled up to this point, and I was now facing major surgery. I was worried about breastfeeding and latching and all those other fears that I never thought about. All I knew were two things – whatever we had to do for my baby to arrive in this world healthy we would do, and we were breastfeeding.  Armed with knowledge and commitment as well as an extremely supportive OB, I asked my birth doula to help me latch the second we came out of surgery.

Mia arrived in a hurry ready to meet this world. I was able to hold her within minutes while they stitched me up so we started right away with skin to skin. Our doula was waiting in the recovery room and swooped in to latch Mia on, and we were in business. Or so I thought… all I can say is breastfeeding the first month is HARD! The first few days are a blur – I was recovering from major surgery and I had a tiny baby and huge boobs. The BABEs were called immediately for an in home consultation. She latched well, but I positioned her poorly due to my immobility in the beginning, so my nipples got pretty damaged. I stayed positive and dedicated. Once we got home Mia decided she didn’t like my left nipple so for a while I would always offer both but she only ate the right, and I pumped the left every time she ate the right – sometimes every 2 hours. Then of course she damaged my right nipple and thankfully took the left but then I pumped the right every 2 hours for about a week.  Through it all we persevered. Mia is now five months old healthy and happy and taking both boobs. I have a stash of about 200 ounces in the freezer, and I am back at work pumping as much as she is drinking while at daycare.

Breast feeding is about devotion and awareness- if you want it badly enough you two will work through it. I make lactation cookies, drink 5 liters of water a day and have mother’s milk tea. I still wake up once at night to pump if she sleeps through, but I know this is the best start I can give her along with love and affection. I still worry all the time about being back at work, but feeding my child the best possible trumps all. Every day is different and some days are hard still, but I just take it one step at a time and look at the bigger picture.

My dear friend just had her first baby less than a week ago in France, she texts me constantly for advice which I gained through my experience and through amazing support like the BABEs. I like to explain the first month this way – though you imagine that you and your baby will just know what to do, in reality, you two are meeting for the first time, you haven’t learned each other’s manner or personality and that takes time. Breastfeeding is a relationship you build with your child – be patient and positive and loving and open you two will find your own unique way to nourish and love.

-Jenny

My Breastfeeding Adventures: Nursing E in The Early Days

29 Jul

Cristin and E

Cristin and E

Breastfeeding was the least of my concerns while I was pregnant with E. I had already done it for 15 months with my first, we battled food sensitivity, flat nipples and nursed half way through my pregnancy. Should be no problem the second time I thought. Well, I was wrong. It took many attempts to get the first latch. When she did finally latch it hurt. Breastfeeding should not hurt, I remembered. I told my doula and my midwife as they were trying to help me, “She’s not latched right. It hurts. It’s not supposed to hurt.” I always had an initial pain when my first baby latched, but then all was well. This was worse at the beginning, but hurt all the time. I took her off then tried and tried again until she was finally back on. It was better this time, but still hurt. I wanted my baby to get what she needed, so I stuck it out. Our second night home it took 3 hours of trying to get her latched before I rummaged through the old baby things to find a nipple shield. It worked, thank goodness!

Over the next 3 weeks E grew thinner and thinner. E’s weight was now 8 ounces less than her birth weight, at 3 weeks old. I was in so much pain sometimes I wanted to cry. I relied on the nipple shield at night especially. There were times where I thought I couldn’t take the pain. I went to a LLL meeting, our second. We learned how to use the sandwich technique and got E’s weight to go back up again. Finally a week later, at 1 month old, she was back to her birth weight.

I started APNO and went to the ENT at the suggestion of BABE. The ENT found a lip tie and a tongue tie. He clipped both. For the first time ever, I had a pain free latch!

I stayed on the APNO for quite some time, had mastitis once, thrush once. After each remedy I felt, better, but not completely. I was sure my midwives thought I was nuts or something, but I knew something was wrong so I persisted. I always had redness, swelling, vasospasms and pain following the vasospasms for 4 mos. I contacted BABE again to pick their brains. I tried another treatment for thrush with no success, but something they said got me thinking. I wondered if it was a food sensitivity on my part. I quit drinking almond milk and within 2 days I felt much better. After about a week I tried some and the pain was back. Since then I have not had any almond milk and very little pain after 4 ½ months of constant pain. E still needs assistance with her latch, but her weight is near the top of the charts again.

Megan and Charlotte

22 Jul
Megan and Charlotte

Megan and Charlotte

Let me start by saying that breastfeeding is hard. Really hard. But is also insanely rewarding. And it absolutely got me through the first three months that were filled with sleepless nights, colicky cries, self doubt and depression. That connection to my little one was like a life raft in a very stormy sea.

Breastfeeding is a commitment; it’s a lifestyle really. It doesn’t come easy. It comes with practice, which is a good thing since we get to do it 10 to 12 times a day in the beginning, or in my case every 45 minutes to 1 hour or so. Honestly I had to stop clock watching. You see Charlotte was a colicky (reflux?) baby who needed to nurse constantly. And she was dairy intolerant. And she was tongue and lip tied. And then we got thrush. And had a bout of mastitis. It seemed we had every roadblock in front of us to overcome in order to successfully nurse. Not to mention I struggled with a less than ideal birth that left me feeling inadequate, as well as having none of my family nearby to offer support, and post partum depression.

As a first time mom I could have easily given up. And I wanted to, many times. But I was committed. Fully. I knew that if I could just keep going, I could at least control my ability to give Charlotte the best nutritional start in life. So I enlisted the help of our wonderful LC with the BABEs for support and I just.kept.going. And let me reassure you it DOES get easier. It won’t happen over night. But one day you’ll be sitting there, enjoying the way your little babe curls into you, and you feel the warmth of your letdown, you hear that blissful sound of your small one taking in deep gulps of your milk, and you’ll know it was all worth it in the end. You see, your hard work pays off in ounces and pounds as you weigh your babe. You see them grow strong and healthy. It fills me with pride to see those things in Charlotte. We are now 6 months into nursing. She’s growing day by day. And our emotional bond is amazing. There really is nothing greater.

A Personal Story: Tongue-Tied and Breastfeeding

2 Jul
BenjaminNursing Joy

Joy and Benjamin at 10 months

I recently had my third son this past summer and was looking forward to breastfeeding him just like I breastfed my other two sons. Having had wonderful breastfeeding experiences with my other two boys, I was quite surprised when I experienced pain while breastfeeding with this baby. I knew that the latch looked right from the outside, but something was not right if there was pain. Jane Bradshaw, my wonderful International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and friend, always told everyone that breastfeeding should never hurt, so I started investigating other possibilities. I noticed that my baby seemed to eat all the time with hardly a break. I would sit for two hours at a time on the couch with a baby that seemed to eat and eat and eat and not feel satisfied. He would sleep a bit and then wake up hungry again. He was getting milk, but it seemed to take him so long to get it. That in combination with the pain was wearing down this mommy quick. So I made an appointment with Jane to do a weight check and a breastfeeding snapshot to see exactly how much milk he was getting in a feeding and also have her look at his latch to make sure I was not missing any problem areas.

The first thing Jane checked was his tongue. She noticed that he did not stick his tongue out of his mouth and it did not rise very high when he cried. These were two very good signs of the possibility of a tongue-tie in combination with the breast pain and long feedings. Sometimes you can see the frenulum visually, but in my son’s case he had a very deep rooted tongue-tie that was not easily seen until the Ear Nose and Throat Specialist found it underneath the web-like tissue. Even my son’s doctor did not see the tongue-tie because it was one that was not commonly seen with an initial look in the mouth. Thankfully he was getting enough milk to gain weight, but I had to work harder with pumping and compressions to get all the milk to him in a feeding (not to mention the pain I was feeling!). Jane suggested a visit to the Ear Nose and Throat Specialist in Lynchburg, VA, Dr. Andrea Kittrell. I made an appointment and had the procedure done that day.

No one likes to see their baby in pain and worries about having any kind of procedure done that would cause it. My son cried a little when he came back to the room from the procedure, but the pain afterwards was very minimal. He breastfed immediately and I felt a difference right away! No pain from nursing at all, right there at the doctor’s office. Jane gave me some post-procedure exercises to do with him to help him learn to use his tongue better, and he was soon sticking out his tongue with gusto and enjoying the new-found freedom to move his tongue. Feedings improved dramatically and there was NO pain.

Jane told me that tongue-ties are very common, and most are undiagnosed because moms give up breastfeeding because of the pain. Many people live with the pain of breastfeeding and just assume that it is normal and something to have to struggle through in order to give your baby the best food, breastmilk. I think of many friends and family members who pushed through with breastfeeding and eventually gave up around six months because it hurt too much or the baby was not gaining enough weight because they thought they didn’t have enough milk. I agree with Jane, it’s not supposed to hurt! I wish they would have gone to an IBCLC and got a solution to ease their pain so that they could enjoy the incredible bonding experience of breastfeeding their baby for as long as possible, not to mention the tremendous benefits of breastmilk for their baby. If you have pain from breastfeeding, make an appointment with Jane Bradshaw or another IBCLC in your area today to find relief.

Ben and Mom Joy-001Thank you to our guest blogger, Joy Rhodes.

Virtual assistant to Jane and Mom of three boys.