Friday, January 31, 2014

Treating Mastitis Naturally

Mastitis. It's a word dreaded by every breastfeeding mother. Some are lucky to never know mastitis on such intimate terms. Yet others, such as myself, become way more familiar with mastitis than we could ever hope and imagine to be possible.

In between my baby's first and second week of life, I developed mastitis. It was brutal and excruciatingly difficult. Here I was still adjusting to being a mother, learning to breastfeed, and figuring out the nuances of a newborn. Then, for fun, let's throw in the gift of mastitis. Had it not been for my extremely supportive husband and a wonderful doctor who understood my desire to avoid antibiotics at all costs, I might not be where I am today. Nora is 11 months old and going strong with nursing!

I'm certain my mastitis was brought on by a combination of my oversupply and Nora's tongue and lip ties, which unfortunately went undiagnosed until she was 11 weeks.  I cannot stress enough the importance of draining the breast in the early weeks! Because I had an oversupply and Nora had transfer issues, she always got enough milk but didn't take enough out (if that makes any sense).

When I realized what was going on, I started gathering as much information as I could about natural treatments. Because Nora was still so young, the absolute last thing I wanted was to take antibiotics. Her gut flora was still developing and passing antibiotics to her through my milk could wreak havoc on her system for a long time. Aside from that, antibiotic use can perpetuate thrush in mother and baby, and I certainly didn't need any more setbacks!

I kept in contact with my OB's office so they could advise me if I needed to wave the white flag and use conventional medicine. My fever did get pretty high a few times (up to 103.4) but a fever is the body's way of fighting infection and doesn't always need to be shut down. The most difficult part was the extreme pain in my breasts and feeling so exhausted. However, I'm slightly stubborn (huge understatement) so I knew I could get through it. Obviously everyone needs to do what they feel comfortable with, but if you feel strongly about avoiding antibiotics, here is what worked for me.

First of all, do nothing, and I mean literally nothing, except nurse your baby, eat, and stay hydrated! Consider yourself on bedrest. You will need help during this time as someone will need to bring everything to you. Don't get out of bed for anything except going to the bathroom. Rest, rest, rest! Every time you put baby to the breast, use slow massaging motions to help move the milk and the clog out. It will probably be pretty uncomfortable, but it will help work it out. Get yourself a pair of Earth Mama Angel Baby Booby Tubes. These things are indispensable! Pop them in the microwave for a few seconds for instant, heated relief. These can help with letdown and allowing the milk to flow better, which will ease the clog. Some women also find relief from alternating hot and cold compresses. Keep one tube in the freezer and one ready to go in the microwave.

The following can be taken internally to help your immune system fight off the mastitis:

  • Raw apple cider vinegar - A tablespoon or two in about a quart of water. You can add a little raw honey if the taste is too strong for you. Add a splash of raw ACV every time you (or rather someone else!) refill your water glass.
  • Echinacea - Add 30-40 drops to your water, three times a day. 
  • Vitamin C - Taking a megadose of Vitamin C will help boost your system in conjunction with the other vitamins and supplements listed. 
  • Raw garlic - Cut 2-5 cloves of garlic into pieces and swallow like a pill. I wasn't able to use this method since I'm awful at swallowing pills, but garlic has some wonderful healing properties. If you can't stomach swallowing the garlic, try eating some food with lots of fresh garlic. 
You can find some additional information and the protocols I followed here and here. Let me reiterate that I AM NOT a medical professional and this is simply a method I used to help beat mastitis. This isn't a substitute for keeping in touch with your healthcare provider and using your best judgment. Letting mastitis continue for too long without getting better can result in serious infection that can lead to abscess. 

This post contains affiliate links. That means I recommend super great products that I use anyway, and may get a small commission for referring you. If you choose to purchase from my link, I greatly appreciate it!

Snuggling with my nursling

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

WW: Hunger Cues

Friday, January 24, 2014

Breastfeeding and Hospital Stays

Unfortunately last week we had quite the scare with Baby Girl. Through 2 emergency room trips, 3 nights in the pediatric unit, 7 IV pokes and several more pokes for blood test, I can't tell you how many times I said thank goodness for breastfeeding.

Here are some tips on what I learned from this experience.

1-Breastfeed as much as you can, especially during procedures

There was a lot of concern about Baby Girl becoming dehydrated. Fourtunatly the nurses saw how much she was breastfeeding and backed off a bit. It was such a huge source of relief for me knowing that during a time where I was pretty helpless that there was something I could actively do for my daughter. Not to mention how much easier it was to get her to lay still or comfort her during all the poking and proding. We had one nurse laughing at the acrobatics I was doing in order to get on the bed and nurse side lying just so we could get blood taken. At one point Baby Girl would latch, take a drink and then scream at the nurse to let her know she wasn't happy but she wasn't going to let it stop her from getting a drink.

2- Drink lots of water

See #1. You're baby is going to want to nurse. A LOT! You're going to want your baby to nurse a lot. Even if you think your being a pain ask someone to bring you water. Ask the nurse, your partner, even a DR! You're no good to your baby if you aren't good to yourself. One of the best ways and most simple ways to boost supply in drinking enough.

3-Ask for Help

As crazy as it sounds to me, even though I'm breastfeeding and even with a 10 month old in isolation I was not provided a meal during our stay. And with a sick 3 year at home my husband briniging me food wasn't an option. Knowing I need to eat to keep up with the crazy demand I reached out to my church group and my local mommy community. Within minutes a meal train was set up for me. I can't even tell you how grateful I am to have a group of women looking after me so I could focus on my baby.

4-If you can bedshare

This is something I had to push for a bit but we bedhsare at home and with Baby Girl as sick as she was I didn't feel it was time to get her into a crib. Being close to my baby let us both rest and let her nurse as much as she needed to.

5-Do or Don't pack fenugreek

I sent my hubby home to pack us a bag once I found out we were being admitted. After several comments from medical personal that she was going to " suck me dry" he returned to the hospital with lots to drink and fenugreek. While I'm thankful that my hubby even thought to pack it, less appreciated were the reminders that they give me bad gas and the nightly text messages to take my "fart pills"

We are now home and things are mostly back to normal. I'm always amazed at what my body can do and how well it provides. The only downside to the week long breastfeeding marathon is the uncomfortable boost in supply and return of leaky boobs!

Has your baby ever been hospitazied? What helped during your stay?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

My First Latch

I remember being most excited about one thing after the birth of my son.  I was just yearning for that first latch and for the fireworks to go off and everything to be right in the world.  I had read all the books; I had taken the class; I was going to rock breastfeeding and that was all there was to it.  

He can basically fit my whole boob in his mouth now!
Jad came was born on March 1st, 2013 at 8:59pm.  It took only 4 short hours of active labor and lots of control to not kill my husband who was so nervous that he chose to annoy me the entire time...once tickling me in the middle of an f'n contraction.  He better be glad he is still alive.  When Jad emerged I promptly did what all mothers do: I hid him under a sheet so no one could see him because I was so shocked that 45 minutes of pushing gave me this little being that was now mine...oh, not all mothers react this way...hmm.  My hubs was dying to see this creature who was half his doing and I was basically just staring into space imagining myself as Wonder Woman reincarnated for just birthing this baby vaginally with no pain killers.

Anyway, after I came too I needed to get this baby latched on so those fireworks could start and someone could hand me my breastfeeding goddess medal.  Yeah, yeah...I know...we don't get medals.  Well, Jad latched and he sucked in all of the colostrum and really was just as wonderful as I had imagined.  At that point I realized I had no idea if I should keep offering my boob or do what I did.  I placed my brand new baby in a boppy.  WTF was a I thinking.  I look back now and wonder why the heck wasn't I holding my newborn.  Sure, he is sleeping but didn't I have the urge to snuggle and smell that newness? I guess not.

Yep...a boppy.
We stayed at the birth center for 4 hours after Jad was born and I think he may have fed three times.  The nurse said he was doing awesome and I took her word for it.  We packed up that little bugger and I made my dead tired husband drive home at 2 o'clock in the morning after being woken up at 4am the previous day by "Babe, my water just broke!"  He later told me that coming over the bridge to our house he could barely feel his body he was so tired and he has no idea how he got us home.

How was he ever that small!
At home, breastfeeding sucked because well, Jad sucked all day long.  I wasn't prepared.  No reading or class could prepare me for what I was experiencing.  The only thing that could have help was if I signed up for a class where little barracuda nibbled at your nipples for 45 minutes and then swam away for 15 minutes then came back and nibbled again then swam get the picture.  On day 2 I took Jad to Target and transferred the entire breastfeeding section into my cart because one of those products must offer the relief I needed.

Man, I miss that full hair line but my fingers look like sausages.
I had a home nurse come check on me.  She told me Jad was latching fantastic and was an excellent eater.  I told her it hurts and she said it would get better.  That is what they all say (I now know they are right).  At the moment though I didn't think I would survive my boobs hurt so bad.

Why do I write this? Because hopefully you are a soon to be new mom and I can tell you that even if it starts out awful it turns out wonderful.  My baby is almost 11 months old!  I have no clue who let that happen but I would like to find them and give them a piece of my mind.  He crawls over and nose dives into my boob to get his milk.  He is able to sign to me on some occasional that he would like some booby.  He grabs my boob with his little greasy hands and sucks away and there is no pain.  He also only breastfeeds 4 or 5 times a day.  My new mom self would kill for that and now I miss those moments.  Hang in there, slather on some Nipple Butter and breastfeed your babies!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

You Think I'm Funny, I Think You're Sad.

Lately there has been an article floating around about places where you shouldn't breastfeed. One of those places was a restaurant. Working at restaurants almost my whole working life this made me laugh. Trust me people, the last thing you need to worry about when eating at a restaurant is the mom sitting near you breastfeeding her baby.

I would consider myself a seasoned NIP. I do it all the time and rarely if ever feel self conscious about it. You name it and I've breastfed there.

Not too long ago my family and I decided we would head to Red Lobster to take advantage of their Endless Shrimp special (I love me some shrimp). It was pretty packed and we were seated at table that was in between two tables. I sat in the back corner with the baby. At one point I started nursing her in the Boba.  In full disclosure: I wasn't showing much skin but if you went ahead and looked IN the carrier I'm sure you could see a little more than the typical cleavage.

At one point while I was nursing her the table behind us started laughing HYSTERICALLY. They continued on for 10+ minutes and I could hear them saying things like "hooter" and "time for the  check".

It didn't take long to realize they had caught a glimpse of me nursing my daughter. My boyfriend and I realized quickly what was going on, who they were laughing at, our son luckily had no idea.

I was mortified.

I was angry.

I'm sad that these parents and their children (all girls) probably don't know any breastfeeding women.

I'm sad that they only view breasts as something that is sexual.

I'm sad that those girls probably weren't breastfed themselves.

I'm sad that when they get older and they have children that if they choose to breastfeed they may not have the support of their parents to feed their baby whenever, wherever instead they'll have to deal with the
Image Map
remarks that myself and others are used to hearing from our families.

I'm sad that the parents think laughing at someone nourishing their child and encouraging it among their children is the right thing to do.

But I do. And my kids? They won't bat an eye at a breastfeeding mother and lord help them if they do ;).

Monday, January 20, 2014

My Baby Isn't Even One...Is He Weaning?

A few weeks ago, a tragic thing happened in our house - I thought my 11 months old was weaning!
"Mom!  I like breastfeeding WAY too much to wean now!"

As it is, my child has a crazy transfer rate and is really efficient at the breast (which I attribute, at least in part, to our late posterior tongue tie diagnosis and revision that you can read about here), so he was only nursing 3 or maybe 4 times in a 24-hour period as it was.  When he started refusing the breast at his afternoon feed and the feeding before bed, I started panicking.  I had hoped to nurse until L was at least two and I was distraught at the thought of not even making it to a year.

Thankfully, he started showing signs of teething (stuffy nose, swollen gums) the next day!  Now, I know you're thinking I'm a horrible mom for being excited that my child was stuffed up and swollen, but now I knew what the issue was.  This wasn't L weaning, this was teething and maybe a bit of a nursing strike.

So how do you tell the difference between a nursing strike and/or teething and self-weaning?  And what do you do if it is a nursing strike and/or teething to ensure your successful breastfeeding relationship continues? 

What you need to know:

1. Babies rarely self wean before 18 months.  Babies self wean when both their nutritional and emotional needs no longer need nursing to be fulfilled.  This means that your baby is primiarily getting their nutrition from solids/table food.  If that is NOT the case, do not assume your little one is trying to wean.

2. Self weaning is a gradual process.  If, all of the sudden, your baby decides, like mine did, to stop nursing, they probably aren't weaning and there is likely something else going on.  This was why I was so "excited, " or maybe relieved when L developed the sniffles and I noticed some other indicators of teething.

Tips for pushing through a nursing strike:

1. Pump to maintain supply and reduce risks of mastitis/blocked ducts.  This is probably the most important (and often time consuming) tip. Even though your baby is taking a few days away from the breast, they will be back!  You want to make sure your maintain your supply.  Also, mastitis and blocked ducts really stink!  Pumping is the best way to avoid them.  Try and pump around the times your LO would typically nurse.  If your little one has no discernible pattern, pump when you start to feel full. 

2. Offer the breast...a lot.  Keep offering and eventually your baby will probably take it and begin nursing like they used to.  It never hurts to offer the breast, just don't get discouraged if your baby still won't take it.  In that case...

3. Use bottles/sippy's as needed.  Most likely breast milk is still your baby's primary source of nutrition and you need to make sure they are getting all of the food they need.  It may seem counterproductive to offer bottles, but unless you see a major bottle preference in the weeks leading up to the strike, you should be okay using bottles or sippy's as needed (just make sure you pump afterward!).

4. Try early morning or middle of the night feedings.  Your little one may still be a little sleepy or (if they've slept through the night) really hungry.  Those feedings are great times to get them back to the breast.

5. Go back to skin to skin.  Even if your baby is older a little skin-to-skin cuddling can't hurt.  There is just something about being close to mom and skin-on-skin that may coax your little one back to nursing.

6. Try different positions/locations.  As babies get older and start developing new skills your tried and true cross cradle or football holds may no longer work.  Sitting L up right next to me really helped during our strike.  A quiet, dark room will help block out the distractions.  Or maybe they just want to try something new, like crawling up to you and helping themselves to milkies!

No matter what, if you don't think your child meets the criteria for weaning and you want to keep nursing, keep at it.  They will, most likely, be back to the breast in a few days.

Have you experienced some sort of nursing strike?  What are some tips you would offer other moms going through the same thing?  Share your advice in the comments below.

Friday, January 17, 2014

"Pumping It Up!" while pumping and breastfeeding

Please welcome guest poster Amy to Adventures in Breastfeeding! We know it can be difficult to get in shape when you have a hungry baby to feed, but Amy has tips and motivation to help you reach your goals!

Yes! You can do intense workouts and get back to your pre-pregnancy weight while breastfeeding!  I’ve debunked that myth.  As a group fitness instructor and mom of a 9 ½ month old baby girl, fitness and nutrition are a major part of my lifestyle.  Like many moms, I was eager to shed the pregnancy weight once I had my baby.  I gained about 40 lbs, and lost a lot of muscle tone.  Prior to getting pregnant, I was in the best physical shape of my life.  Having a baby and getting back into shape has truly been humbling.

Be realistic.  I certainly couldn’t pick up from where I left off with my extreme workouts and competitive running once the baby was born.  So, I walked.  My belly bounced and I was easily winded.  During those boring walks, my mind wandered.  I envisioned myself running strong again, and even coming back faster.  It became my motivation. 

Find your comfort zone, then get out of it.  Eventually, I began incorporating some jogging with my walking.  I started working out in my home gym.  It was tough.  My belly would touch the ground when I did push-ups.  I was easily winded.  However, I never gave up. 

Be patient with weight loss.  I was working out every day.  My strength and endurance was improving.  However, the scale wasn’t budging.  I became frustrated.  As a fitness instructor, I’ve helped people lose hundreds of pounds, but couldn’t lose the weight myself.  I started to resent people who said that the weight would come off easily because I was breastfeeding.  Typically, those people have a commonality: They either don’t have kids, or have never breastfed. With very little sleep and a massive appetite from breast feeding, I thought I was doomed to never lose the pregnancy weight.

1st place in a 5K after having Ava!
No gimmicks.  I did gradually start losing weight, because I was doing it the healthy way with proper diet and exercise.  I never deprive myself of food.  I eat when I’m hungry, but make wise choices.  I think of food as fuel for my workouts, but most importantly as giving the best nutrition to my baby.  No crazy diets.  No fad supplements.  No trendy workouts where I could easily get injured.  It took about 7 months, but I finally felt comfortable in my pre-pregnancy clothes. 

Make the time. Fitness should be part of your daily routine, not a chore.  If getting in shape is a priority, you’ll find the time.  Get off Facebook.  Quit Candy Crush.  Stop baking cookies and knitting scarves.  Depending on my workout, I wake up every day between 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.  I pump my milk and deposit it to my freezer stash.  I either run or do a workout in my home gym before my baby wakes up at 7:30 a.m.  I really enjoy my workouts and look forward to them.  If you find the workouts you love, you’ll stick to them. 

Drink even more water.  As breastfeeding moms, we already drink an abundant amount of water to maintain our supply.  Well, if you’re exercising, you’ll need to drink even more.  I am pretty much glued to my water bottle all day.  I also drink a lot of coconut water as a natural energy drink.  It’s loaded with electrolytes. 

I did it! Ultimately, the vision and determination of coming back stronger and faster became a reality.  Since having my baby in March and breastfeeding strong, I’ve run six 5K races.  I’ve placed 1st in my division in every race, and beat my personal best time twice.  I am also looking forward to teaching Body Pump again, a fitness class with weights, beginning January 14th.  My passion for helping others accomplish their fitness goals is stronger than ever now.  None of this was easy to accomplish.  I am still trying to figure out balance in my life with baby.  My next big challenge to overcome is finding the time to style my hair and put on makeup, which seems almost impossible most days.  Ultimately, it’s all about priorities and perspective.  My workouts give me time to myself.  Sometimes it’s the only time I have for myself the entire day, so I look forward to it.

Do you have health and fitness goals this year? Share your hopes and successes!

Amy Drazen lives in Orlando, Florida with her husband and daughter, Ava. She is an accomplished runner and has won various awards in racing. Amy is a certified Les Mills International Group Fitness Instructor in Body Pump and Body Combat. She enjoys healthy cooking and nutrition.

If you want to submit a guest post to Adventures in Breastfeeding please fill out this form. We would love to hear your story and share it with our readers! Don't forget if you have any breastfeeding questions, comments or fun pictures to share feel free to post on our Facebook wall or message us on Facebook!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wouldn't You Like to Know!

We all get those questions.

Yep. You know what I'm talking about. 

The overly nosy but somehow "well-meaning" questions from friends, family, or even strangers. 

I've gotten quite a few of them in the last few weeks and here is how I replied (or would reply if my jaw wasn't on the floor!)

1. "When are you going to wean her?"
   - "When she is ready."
I just don't understand why people are so worried about how long MY daughter will be nursing. One individual even told me it was weird that she was still nursing at 10 months. 

2. "Doesn't she have teeth by now?" ( insert look of sheer horror)
   - "Yes, she actually has 8 teeth now. And my nipples are fine. Thanks."
She has bitten me a couple times. It hurt. But I survived and so did our nursing relationship. I guess I was just too stubborn to let some pain get in the way of my goals and my daughter's health!

3. "Don't you want your body back?" 
   - "I'm fine thanks!"
This one actually shocked me. I've never felt like my body wasn't my own. I've never felt the tiniest bit of resentment towards L for nursing. I love my time with her and nursing is just part of that. 

I'm sure I could keep going. Some of the questions made me laugh out loud because I just didn't understand how someone could think that it was appropriate to ask me about my BOOBS!! Other questions are just getting old. Maybe one day I will come up with a great one-liner. 

What are some ridiculous questions you've been asked about your nursing relationship?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Pumping Counts Too: A Working Mom's Story

We're so excited to have our very first guest poster on Adventures in Breastfeeding! Please give her a warm welcome as she shares her breastfeeding journey. 

Before Ellie was born, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I’d read gobs of books (just doing what any good librarian would do) that taught me how to correctly position my new bundle of joy and felt as prepared as I could be to make it work. This was despite the fact that no one I was close to knew anything about breastfeeding - my mother and mother-in-law included.

Disclaimer #1: For something that is as natural as natural can be, breastfeeding sure the heck was hard in the beginning.

What the books didn’t do a good job preparing me for were tips on working with flat nipples (thank the Lord for nipple shields which got us through the first 4 months!) and how in the world to go about preparing to go back to work.

Disclaimer #2: This is my story. My story below is what has worked for Ellie and I. Use your mommy instinct to determine what will work best for you.

I went back to work at 6 weeks. While I’m thankful for those precious 6 weeks that I had, it was certainly early to have to introduce a bottle when breastfeeding still felt very awkward for us. But, you do what you have to do! 3 weeks prior to going back to work I started “building my freezer supply.” I had talked extensively with my sister-in-law (a working mom herself and one who had mastered the art of pumping at work long-term) who recommended pumping about an hour after the morning feeding and an hour after the night feeding. I had a slight oversupply, so I was able to put away quite a bit in that first week.

Disclaimer #3: I really didn’t know what the freezer stash was for, but it seemed everyone did it so I figured I would too. In hindsight I haven’t needed the freezer stash except for the very first day back to work. It sure helped knowing I had “backup” available, but I didn’t really need it to the extent that I initially thought.

2 weeks prior to returning to work, I introduced the bottle to Ellie. I pumped her afternoon bottle before she ate it and fed that freshly pumped miracle milk to her. In order to figure out just how much milk needed to be placed in the bottle, Kellymom’s very handy expressed milk calculator was extremely helpful. You punch in how often your baby is eating and you get back an average number of ounces. Pretty cool! I did the once-a-day bottle for the entire 2 weeks prior to starting back to work and also kept up with pumping 1 hour after the morning and evening feedings.

Disclaimer #4: All the literature says to let someone else feed the bottles to avoid issues with confusion, but I didn’t have that luxury since I was home alone with Ellie. Thankfully all went well and by the time I went back to work she was fully on board with taking a bottle.

Once I returned to work, I needed to establish a good routine for pumping. At the time, Ellie was eating 3 times during the hours that I would be away. That first day back, I thawed enough from my freezer for 4 bottles (just in case an extra would be needed). At work, I made sure to pump 3 different times (mid-morning, lunch, and afternoon for 15-20 minutes each). What I pumped that day I gave in bottles the next day and any extra were frozen with the rest of my bulk.

As time went on, Ellie began to expand the amount of time in between her feedings. On weekends I solely nursed and stopped pumping those extra sessions. During the week though, I continued pumping 3 separate times even though she was technically only eating twice while I was away. A good 2 weeks of this and my body was out of whack trying to figure out the foremilk/hindmilk balance. Because I was doing something different on the weekend than during the week, that was apparently enough to confuse my body (live and learn right?). I promptly stopped the extra pump at work, and within a few weeks, the green poops were gone and my supply was regulating.

I can now happily say that at 9 months, Ellie is still exclusively fed with breastmilk and I’m down to pumping once a day on my lunch break (and have been able to keep my supply up just fine).

Disclaimer #5: Literature is right and will tell you that demand (whether nursing or pumping) will signal more milk to be made. For some, dropping pumps may not be the right thing to do. For us, my mantra became pump when baby eats which has continued to work to regulate my oversupply. I also have a baby who makes it known when she’s hungry, who will. not. eat. when she’s not hungry, and who has put herself naturally on her current schedule of eating 4 times a day with one of those 4 times being a 6.25 ounce bottle while I’m away at work. Many will disagree with how I’ve done things, but at the end of the day you do what works and seems most appropriate for the situation.

Pumping totally counts! It’s hard work, certainly isn’t as fun or rewarding as straight out nursing, but the benefits are worth it. Keep calm and pump on!

What has your experience with pumping been like?

Rebecca is Wife to Adam, Mom to Ellie, and an Academic Librarian living in small-town Indiana. Her love of reading, writing, and crafting has sparked several blog attempts - most recently Humbled Ramblings of a Working Mom. You can find her here:

If you want to submit a guest post to Adventures in Breastfeeding please fill out this form. We would love to hear your story and share it with our readers! Don't forget if you have any breastfeeding questions, comments or fun pictures to share feel free to post on our Facebook wall or message us on Facebook! 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Know Your Rights: Pumping in the Workplace

If you're anything like me, as soon as you thought you had this breastfeeding thing in the bag, it was time to go back to work and a whole new set of challenges presented themselves. You've made the obligatory call to the boss to let them know you're returning as planned and reminded them that you are going to pump for your baby to provide the best nutrition you can for as long as you can but at least the six months recommended by the AAP and hopefully until your little's first birthday. "Absolutely. No problem!" she says then hangs up the phone. Relief.

The boss isn't the only one on your side. So is the law. 

The Department of Labor, in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states that for any company with 50 plus employees: 

Employers are required to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.”

Employers are also required to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”

What does this mean for you? You are protected.

Even if you don't feel like it sometimes, there is a federal law backing up your requests to go pump when you feel that you need to, when your little one usually eats, when you feel full.

The law also outlines where you should be pumping at work. Private space. Not a bathroom. Ideally a locked door but somewhere that a person can't just barge in on you.

In addition to the federal protection, twenty four states have laws protecting pumping mothers as well. All of the information on state laws regarding pumping and breastfeeding in public can be found here

I get that the law is on my side but what else do I have to back me up?

You can be like yours truly and walk around work saying things like, "This is a violation of pumping laws and the mother friendly worksite!" or you can have a smidge more tact. I suggest a combination of both, personally. There are actually benefits of breastfeeding to your employer. That's right. Make it about their productivity and the big-wigs may be more inclined to give you the breaks you are entitled to.

Mastitis, or as I like to call it, boob flu, can knock you out of working order for a week. Mastitis can be caused by plugged ducts which can be caused by -wait for it- not emptying the breasts frequently. It would be super unfortunate for you to miss work to nurse a bad case of mastitis that could have been avoided had your coworker just covered for you for 20 minutes so you could pump instead of complaining for 10....I digress...The bottom line is that it is a health issue for you to have regular access to a place and time to express milk.

Breastfed babies tend to get sick less so by giving a breastfeeding mother pumping breaks, an employer is essentially cutting back on sick days mom would have to take to get a sick little to the pediatrician for an ear infection, respiratory infection or other illness. Breast milk, unlike formula, is packed full of antibodies so as mom is getting over that nasty seasonal gunk going around, baby is gobbling up all sorts of defenses against it through mama's milk. Less sick days for baby = less sick days for mama = a happier and more productive employer.

I'm afraid to speak up because I'm afraid they'll treat me differently or retaliate in some way.

Guess what? The law protects against that, too! It is a violation of the FLSA for anyone to retaliate in any way against a mother who has lodged a complaint regarding violation of federal pumping laws.

Here's some great resources for the federal and state pumping and breastfeeding laws:

Don't be afraid to step up, mamas. Know your rights. Keep calm and nurse on. Til next time...

Friday, January 10, 2014

You Know You're a Breastfeeding Mom When...

We've all been there ladies - something happens and you know only other moms who breastfeed (or who have breastfed) would understand.

The Adventures in Breastfeeding crew has put together our favorite list of ways you know you're a breastfeeding mom and wanted to share them with you.  We're guessing there is at least one or two you can relate to!

You Know You're A Breastfeeding Mom When...

...your little tries to latch to things that resemble nipples. --Amanda ask your boss to move a meeting to a different time, because it interferes with your pump break. --Missy drink Pedialyte after throwing up all night just to maintain your supply. (That stuff is nasty!). -- Jessica haven't touched half of your wardrobe in a year because it isn't boob accessible. --Joan have, at one or more times, walked through a public place with your shirt pulled down on one side and your bra exposed. Bonus points if you were actually not embarrassed, but relieved, that you managed to relatch your bra at least. --Leanne keep a nursing cover in your bag not for feeding but for those times you forget a hat! --Alissa

...everything you have smells like breastmilk and you just don't care...ugh the early days. --Samantha

...your chest is scratched up from tiny little razor sharp nails. --Laura

...a baby cries on TV and you let down! --Christa

What did we leave out?  What would you add to the list?  Let us know in the comments below.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

5 Mis-Adventures in Breastfeeding

From the moment I decided to breastfeed Harper, I began to devour all things breastfeeding: Books. Blogs. Groups. Classes. You name it, I was into it. I became a little obsessed and consequently slightly neurotic about perfection. This is a common tendency of mine, you'll come to know. Anyhow, in the midst of my perfection-seeking, I started to crack a little. Ok, a lot. I was putting an extreme amount of pressure on myself until one night (for those of you who still consider 3 AM night that is). It started with a soft chuckle, progressed to a medium giggle, and ended with me laughing hysterically into my pillow so as to not wake my sleeping baby. I laughed at myself. Since then, I've lightened up and laugh at my misadventures. Here are my top 5 Mis-Adventures in Breastfeeding.

1.) The Nip Slip: Around 6 months of age, Harper became a very distracted nursling. A fly could land on the wall and she'd suddenly pop off to check it out. One day, as I was nursing at a friend's house (we don't use a cover), her 15 year old daughter walked in and just like that she was off. I didn't realize it at first and then the look on her face said it all. It said, "Umm I'm totally looking at your nipple!" My face probably turned 50 shades of red once I realized my entire boob was hanging out. I'm a little more aware now, but nonetheless I laughed.

Harper at 8 months

2.) The Wardrobe Malfunction: Before long, it became apparent that nursing in public with my distracted girl left me with a few options. I could fight to keep a cover on her (I tried and failed). I could just walk around stores topless (hmm something tells me that wouldn't be allowed). Or I could just find a private place for now. I opted for finding a private place. So fast forward to one fine day at Target; I had just wrapped up a nursing session in my car. I was carrying Harper on my hip and getting lots of stares. I'm used to getting lots of smiles and "oohs and aws" because my gal is just so stinking cute, but these were stares, y'all. People were looking at me like I was half dressed! Finally, a mother of two in the diaper aisle looked down at my shirt and smiled at me. Ah-ha! I knew that smile. That smile that told me she'd been there. Imagine my horror when I look down to find that I hadn't layered myself back up after breastfeeding, so I had one fully clothed side and another with my bra just saying "hi" to everyone! Still, I had to laugh. I mean, what are you gonna do? Actually, you should probably think about that because this will likely happen to you in some fashion (pun intended).

Milkshake anyone?
Picture provided by Sugar and Cloth and the recipe can be found here.

3.) The Milkshake: I suffer from chronic clogged ducts and let me tell you, they can be a real son of a gun. I wouldn't wish them on my worst enemy. With that said, I've found a few things that really work for me, and one of them is something I like to call....The Milkshake. This is where I bend over braless and give the ladies an aggressive shimmy. I sometimes can feel the clog coming on and decided to be proactive about the matter right then and there. So one morning I'm cleaning my daughters high-chair and have this matter to attend to. I put her in the chair and I'm just shimmying away when I hear my mothers voice behind me. She says, "What the hell are you doing?" Note to self: do your milkshake in your room when you aren't alone in the house.

4.) The Boob Bath: The first time I had a clogged duct, I'd gotten some wonderful advice from one of the ladies on my Facebook support group. She offered up the little nugget of using an Epsom Salt soak to get some relief. As magical as this is, I'll be honest and say that you'll feel like a complete idiot doing this. At 3AM one night, I'd had it with my clogged ducts and needed relief bad. So there I was, butt in the air, crouched on the floor and braless with both boobs dunked in the largest mixing bowl I could find. I was crying from how uncomfortable I was and then I just thought about the image of myself. And in that moment I just had to laugh. Don't worry, I thoroughly cleaned the mixing bowl before making cookies. 

5.) The Geyser: My boobs are crazy. Let me explain. My let down is super fast and I have oversupply, so if my sweet nursling isn't handling her business, then milk can literally go everywhere. Just ask my 3 year old niece. My breastfeeding is natural for her (her mama breastfeeds also) and she typically will stand close while I
feed Harper. One afternoon, I was babysitting her and she was leaning on the arm rest of the rocker I was feeding Harper in. I was watching TV and hadn't realized (again) that Harper had popped off. Then I heard my niece squealing, "Stop spraying me! Stop spraying me!" I'm not proud that I busted out laughing, but I did. She then narrowed her eyes and said, "It's NOT funny!" Well, okay then. I pulled myself together and cleaned her up. Then I promptly walked into my room and had another quick chuckle.

My niece, Leighton.
Photo provided  by Sarah Volner

The best advice I would've given my future breastfeeding self is to not take myself too seriously. I was always committed to staying the course, but I wasn't always enjoying it. Now I do. Why? Because I'm not holding myself to a perfect standard and am laughing about my mis-adventures.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Working Mamas Must Have Pumping Supplies

When I returned to work I had a few ounces of milk in the freezer and a whole lot of determination to continue feeding my daughter breastmilk.  My first day back to work I sat in my office's lactation room, hooked up to the pump, and cried.  It was so easy for me to just put my baby to the breast.  She preferred the breast!  She hated bottles!  So I cried.

I've been back at work a few months and so much has changed since that first day.  I actually look forward to my pumping sessions.  They're a few minutes for me to escape my busy day and watch videos of my babe, or catch up on social media, and sometimes even do some online shopping!  I've compiled my must have lists for what to have within arms reach while you're pumping, as well as useful things to keep at your desk to make life a little easier.

1. Kindle or iPad/tablet- I keep my iPad Mini within reach at all pumping sessions.  Whether to catch up on Facebook or to watch a video on Netflix.  I powered through the first two seasons of Scandal in a few days thanks to my iPad and pumping sessions.  I would find myself thinking, "I can't wait to pump again so I can watch Scandal!"
2. Phone- Again, something to keep you entertained while hooked up to the machine.  Send some texts, look at photos and videos of the baby, check out Instagram. 
3. Water bottle (with straw!)- While I'm pumping I find that I am so thirsty, so I always make sure my tumbler with ice cold water is within arm's reach.  It's so important for a breastfeeding mama to keep hydrated, so a cup close by is a must have.
4. Hands free pumping bra- I love this Simple Wishes nursing bra, but I know people who cut holes into a sports bra and that works just as well. 
5. Photo and videos of baby- Milk letdowns are based on hormones, so if you're stressed you won't produce as much milk as if you're relaxed.  An easy and awesome way to pump up those milk producing hormones while pumping is to look at photos and videos of your little one.  I love watching videos of my daughter on repeat while I pump!
1. Medela Quick Clean Sanitizing Bags- Before I had these quick clean bags, I would bring home my pump parts each night and boil them.  Now when I finish my last pump of the day I just throw them in the bag with some water and microwave.  I even keep a mini bottle rack in one of my cabinets at my desk to dry my parts!  I've heard great things about these Medela Sanitizing Wipes as well.
2. Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags- These are personal preference, but I've been really happy with them.  I lay them down when I freeze them and they freeze flat.  I keep a permanent marker at my desk that I label them with the date.
3. Cooler bag and ice packs- You could really use a lunch box or anything you have on hand, but I love this insulated bottle bag.  I keep my pump parts and milk in it, in the fridge, and then sanitize the pump once at the end of the day.  It would be a major time suck to sanitize the pump parts after each session, so just keep them refrigerated and sanitize once at the end of the day.  If you have a shared fridge at work no one will know what's really in it!  I throw the insulated bag into my work bag at the end of the day with my milk and an ice pack.
4. Replacement Membranes- It's important to replace your pump membranes every few weeks.  If you aren't getting great suction out of your pump, try changing the membranes.  I've noticed significantly better output with fresh membranes!

What are your must have pumping items?  I'd love to know!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Toasty Beef Sandwich and Roasted Roots

The advertising shift from toys and gadgets to fitness memberships and diet plans is a predictable one this time of year. It makes sense. My indulgent eating over the holidays not only impacted my waistline, but my immune system, too. Now I find myself starting out the new year with a stuffy nose and raspy cough.

I didn't always make the connection between what I eat and how I feel. All my life I've enjoyed food, and while I've always eaten vegetables, I would freely partake of junk as well. When I found out I was pregnant I suddenly felt a great responsibility for my health. I realized that now I was nurturing two bodies instead of one and I began to make a shift in my eating habits. This burden has continued now that I breastfeed my little girl; she receives nutrients that I put into my body. She is also starting to share what we have for dinner. I still have a long way to go in cultivating a healthy food culture in my home, but so far I think the key for me is balance. There is no way I will ever eat a salad for every meal, nor should I. Today I'm sharing a simple comfort food recipe that will fill you up with beneficial nutrients and satisfy your taste buds on a cold winter's day.

Toasty Beef Sandwich and Roasted Roots

Sandwich ingredients
2 slices of your favorite bread
Roast beef from the deli
Dijon mustard
Raspberry jam
Cheese (I love brie with roast beef, but today I settled for provolone)
EVOO or roasted garlic (optional - but delightful!)
Get creative with add-ons (I love caramelized onions on mine!)

Roasted roots
Salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Scrub your vegetables well as you rinse them if you want to keep the skins on like I did.

Cut the veggies into fairly even pieces and toss with EVOO in a bowl to coat evenly.

 Put some foil on a baking sheet to make cleanup easier, then pour your veggies on. Spread them out so that they are not on top of each other, then salt and pepper them. Throw them in the bottom rack of your oven for about 30 minutes, or until edges are brown and middles can be cut with a fork.

While the veggies are cooking, line another baking sheet with foil and assemble your sandwich. If you have roasted garlic on hand (which you always should), use the oil that it's packed in to spread on each piece of bread. If not, just use EVOO. Put one piece of bread oil side down on the foil. Spread this piece with mayo, then dijon, then raspberry jam. I know this sounds weird, but it is marvelous. Trust me.

Top that bread with your deli meat and cheese and any other delicious add-ons you'd like: caramelized onions, bacon, etc. I like to put the other piece of oiled bread oil-side-up next to it so the cheese can get melty faster.

Throw it in the top rack of the oven, above the veggies. Turn your broiler on and watch closely because that bread will brown quickly! Once the lone piece of bread looks toasted, put it on top of the sandwich, flip it, and broil again so it's toasted on the other side. (If you have a toaster oven, obviously that would be the easier method!)

I realize this is not an earth-shattering recipe by any stretch of the imagination. I didn't include amounts in the ingredients because I estimate. The carrots and parsnips pictured made two baking sheets of roasted vegetables. I like to make them all at once and keep them in the fridge so little Boo and I can have them for lunch all week. I also like to switch up the sandwich and veggie combo. I'm crazy about this peanut butter bacon sandwich or sometimes I'm in the mood for turkey and avocado.  I love to use beets, squash, or sweet potatoes for the vegetables as well.

The point is, you can have your veggies and comfort food and use your own favorite stand-by ingredients to eat well and feel well.  I love having a full belly and knowing I'm nourishing myself and my daughter with vital nutrients. Happy New Year, and happy eating!