Friday, February 28, 2014

Celebrating a Milestone - Remembering a Year of Breastfeeding

On Monday, I reached one of my goals - I have been exclusively breastfeeding (with added solids) for one whole year!! I'm so proud of our journey and feel extremely blessed that I was able to give Nora the best start in life. What could be a better birthday gift than the bonding between mother and child; lowered risk of cancer for both; and immunities to protect your little one?

Birthday girl

As I think back on my first year of motherhood, some of my fondest memories include the special moments of love and relaxation spent with my sweet babe at my breast. When she needed nutrition, my breasts provided. When she needed comfort, my breasts provided. When she couldn't sleep and everything else guessed it, my breasts provided.

There were also struggles, namely mastitis, flat nipples, and an oversupply. And of course, we dealt with the usual issues like distracted nursing and teething. I remember being so nervous for her to get teeth that would inevitably graze my nipple (or worse). But we made it through all of the issues and challenges, and here we are on the other side.

Milk Coma

I always knew I would breastfeed. For me, there was no other option. As I learned more during pregnancy and then experienced breastfeeding, there was no doubt I'd nurse for a year and assess the situation. There was a brief time when I was feeling a bit "tied down" by nursing, and thought maybe I'd be grateful for the freedom after a year. As Nora was able to go longer in between nursing sessions, that feeling dissipated, and was replaced by me looking forward to sharing that special time together.

Breastfeeding on her birthday

Now that we're at the one year mark, I can't imagine stopping anytime soon. There is no doubt that the perfect situation for us is to allow Nora to self wean, when she decides it is time for our breastfeeding relationship to end. I know it will be a sad day for me, so I'm trying to slowly prepare myself for it. Now if I could only add a new squish so I could tandem nurse...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Full Term Breastfeeding -- Wordless Wednesday

I breastfed my oldest child until he was about 26 months aka 2 years and six months old. I'm not afraid to say that. I say it loud and proud.

I breastfed my son until he was over two. and this is why

Learn More here.
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Monday, February 17, 2014

Breast Milk Does What?! 5 Surprising Facts

The benefits of breast milk when it comes to nourishing your infant (or toddler) are pretty incredible. Some of them include:
  • It's easier to digest.
  • It has all the nutrients and calories that your baby needs to be healthy.
  • It has growth factors that make sure your babies organs develop properly.
  • It changes as your infant (or toddler's) needs change.
  • It allows for the transfer of Mom's immunities to baby.
But, besides nutrition, breast milk is still pretty awesome and can be used in ways other than feeding your child.

I'm sure you're thinking I'm nuts at this point.  I mean, it's not coconut oil, which has a list of over 100 uses floating around on the internet!  Just stick with me for a bit longer while I share some other uses for breast milk and why I think it really has earned the nickname "Liquid Gold!"

1. Pink eye - not in our house!  When Lucas was three or four months old he got pink eye.  I squirted some milk in his eye several times that day.  We also did warm compresses of Golden Seal tea.  Again, by the next morning his eye was completely better.  No antibiotics needed (even though I filled the Rx, just in case).

2. Breast milk is great for babies sensitive skin.  It's been COLD this winter and L's skin is really
showing the signs.  My poor little guy has rough, scaly patches on his arms and legs.  I had an extra ounce of milk in the refrigerator that was about to go bad.  I poured a that in the bath with him one night and, I kid you not, his skin was so much better the next day.  This is a great use for milk that maybe have been left on the counter over night (we've all been there, right!) or that's sat in the refrigerator for a few days too many.  

3. It can heal a cut.  Similar to helping with L's dry skin issues, I've placed a little expressed milk on scratches he's gotten on his face and neck and they heal so quickly - like overnight.  I hate my little guy's face being all scratched up, but it happens all the time.  I little bit of expressed BM and he's healed up in no time.

4. Stuffy noses and earaches are no match for breast milk either.  I'm currently in Disney World celebrating L's first birthday with my family and I got sick!  I was a little congested before we left and the plane ride wrecked havoc on my congestion and ears.  I wanted to avoid medication but was really feeling miserable.  At 5:30am I found myself in a hotel bathroom, hand expressing milk into a plastic hotel cup and then using a syringe to place a few drops in my ears and nose.  Yes, it was a little unpleasant but holy heck did it help!  I could feel the pressure releasing from my ears a few hours later and I have blown my nose so much less today.

5. It can rid you of acne, well, baby acne at least!  I used to put a little expressed milk on L's face when he'd get an outbreak of baby acne in those first few weeks.  It worked like a charm and cleared him right up.

Well, those are my favorite uses for breast milk, other than feeding of course.  Have you used breast milk in some other way?  Share you 'secret' uses for breast milk in the comments below or head over to our Facebook page and let us know your tips there. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Top 8 Apps for Breastfeeding Mamas

Wether you're a brand new breastfeeding mama or a veteran with a gymnurst swinging from your boob, everyone needs something to pass the time every now and again during a nursing session. Here are our top rated, breastfeeding mom approved apps for 2014.

#8 Facebook- I know, you most likely already have this one, but it warrants a spot. I've been able to catch up on a few of my favorite blogs, get some much needed advice from my breastfeeding support group, and find some encouragement at 3 AM thru Facebook chat. This one is an oldie, but a goodie (isn't it weird that Facebook is now considered kind of old…they just celebrated their 10 year anniversary).

#7 Kindle- Have you ever tried holding a paperback over your head with an attached nursling? I have, for about 5 seconds. Have you tried pumping and holding a paperback above your double-electric pump? I have, (wait for it…) for about 5 seconds. It's just not comfortable and turning pages is like a circus act! I've devoured the entire Hunger Games Trilogy, numerous parenting books, and a few self-help books via my Kindle app. This one is a no brainer!

#6 Pinterest- Who doesn't love Pinterest? Pinterest is a bit like Narnia. Once you're in you never want to leave. If you're not already an avid pinner, I recommend it for finding lactation recipes, family meal planning ideas, and preparing for our little one's birthday parties. This one isn't some big revelation, but certainly worth considering during a Midnight feeding. 


#5 Amazon- This one just might be my absolute favorite. It is not, however my bank account's favorite! It sometimes feels as if I'm playing a video game named "Buy All the Things". I've since found that the "save for later" feature is my friend so I can "shop" without actually buying. Then again… it is really fun to have presents delivered on the daily :) Seriously though, Amazon can really save you in a pinch if you need a new set of Bamboobies, a nursing bra, or pump parts and don't have time to get to a store.

#4 Feed Finder- Ah ha! A new one, folks. This app was created in the UK for nursing mums to find and share suitable breastfeeding locations. It's made it's way to the United States, but will take a little effort from all of us to get it going here. Once you've found a breastfeeding friendly location you can add it and rate it. It's sort of like Yelp, only for breastfeeding. Love it! 

#3 LactMed- Have you wondered if Robitussin is safe while breastfeeding? Or if Robitussin isn't safe, then what can you take? Most of us have had some medical situation arise where we just don't know and truthfully our average doctor doesn't always either. LactMed is the answer. It's a database of drugs and supplements that may affect breastfeeding and is part of the National Library of Medicines Toxicology Data Network. Basically, it's totally legit and you should use it instead of asking everyone you know on Facebook.

#2 iBreastfeed2 by Medela- Finally, a one-stop-shop for all things breastfeeding! If you're looking for an app that provides quick links to resources, an activity tracker, storage and feeding recommendations, breastfeeding friendly location finder (it should be noted that this is also in the early stages, just as the other app is), breast pump recommendations, and more… Look no further! This app has it all!


#1 Netflix- Perhaps you're resting from a nasty case of mastitis or you're pumping at work and in great need of mindless activity. Netflix is your friend. Why not watch every episode of Gossip Girl or Scandal or Breaking Bad or Downton Abbey? Not that I've done that or anything. I'm busy. You could though…

What did I miss? What's your favorite app that helps you get thru the day?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Nursing Wear for the Mama on the Go

With NYC fashion week in full swing, I can't help but want to spruce up my own wardrobe.  I suddenly find getting dressed in the mornings so much harder.  I don't want to show my stomach when I nurse in public, so I often wear nursing tanks under my clothes.  I've compiled a few of my go-to looks that not only look great, but make nursing easy.
I wore a bit of H&M Maternity while pregnant and was excited to see they made nursing tanks, bras and shirts as well.  This double layer nursing top is a great place to start an outfit for a day around town with baby.

Let's be honest, date night has taken on a new meaning.  For me it's always rushing through dinner because the baby is fussy, or trying to get home in time for a bedtime nursing session (if we were lucky enough to get a baby sitter)!  I've found that the dresses in my closet have stayed in my closet, and I've been favoring skirts and blouses instead.  There's no easy way to nurse in a dress unless it has a low neckline.  This blouse is perfect for nursing- the buttons go low enough that you could unbutton it to nurse, or simply lift it up.

 necklace // pants // top // heels

Work seems like the only place I can break out my statement necklaces these days for fear of having them tugged and broken by my little one.  I often choose blouses like this one over a button down because it's much easier to pull over my head for a pumping session.  Add in some great shoes and necklace and no one will ever know you were up all night with a teething baby!

What are some of your staple pieces for nursing your little one?  Tell me about it!

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Tale of Two Weaners

I always said, even before I was pregnant, that I would breastfeed for a year or until my baby got teeth. My son has four teeth, turns one this month and we are still breastfeeding. Now, we were lucky enough that the two top teeth didn't erupt until last week, so it's not like I have been nursing a piranha for six months, but we have had our share of love bites and teaching moments. As the year mark started to sneak up on us, I realized that I wasn't particularly ready to stop. He was losing interest, slowly but surely, but this mama wanted to keep nursing for another year. Then, nature helped make our decision.

A few weeks ago, I was sick (with some respiratory crud that I am fairly certain got brought home from daycare) and at the same time was getting my first period in nineteen months. Nineteen glorious months. Those lovely things, combined with work stress, caused my supply to plummet. I also realized that C was creating less of a demand on my supply making it dwindle. I came to peace with our mutual decision. I decided to take a middle ground: Keep nursing when he wants it but taper off pumping at work and provide mostly whole organic cow milk while we are apart. 

With that decision came all sorts of fears and questions...
  • Will he still want to nurse when I'm there?
  • What if he doesn't want the cow milk?
  • Will he be able to sleep without nursing first?
  • What if he doesn't really want to stop?
  • ...and more...
We are a week in to this transition and all is going well. He nurses when he wants and I've dropped pumping sessions at work down to once per 12 hour shift. The great thing is that even though I'm not busting out of my top at work, I am still full in the morning and evening when he wants to nurse. Boobies are so smart.

photo by Tara Star Photography
I got a wide range of comments from friends and family when I shared our decision, ranging from congratulations on getting my body back to myself, commendation for making it so far and condolences that it was ending so soon. I'm still not sure what to make of all of it. On one hand, I am very proud that I managed to exclusively breastfeed my son for as long as I have. Yes, it's nice to be able to leave him with his dad or grandma for longer periods now that he is not so dependent on me, but I already miss him not being so dependent on me. I am glad that he is growing up and becoming more independent but I want him to stay my baby forever. One thing I'm not sure how to take are the condolences. I am happy to say that I provided my son with the best nutrition I could for as long as he wanted it...and he's not done yet! We will keep going as long as he wants to nurse.

Weaning can be difficult, but so far, we are having a smooth transition and I hope it continues. I secretly (or not so secretly) hope that if he is completely weaned by the time baby #2 gets here that he comes back to the breast so I can tandem feed!

What are your breastfeeding goals? Are they different now than they were when you started? Now that you're maybe closer to the goal that you set?

                                                                   Til next time, mamas.

photo by Tara Star Photogtaphy
Keep Calm and Nurse On

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Next Generation

When it comes to all topics breastfeeding you hear a lot of talk about "the next generation". Like I have said in previous posts, I nurse in public so that the next generation of moms will hopefully have an easier time feeding their babies without the fear of being harassed. My mom and mother-in-law both breastfed in the 80's which was not the norm back then but they did it for their children and so on. When it came time for me to breastfeed they of course were very supportive and helped me (their next generation) as much as they could because they would have loved for it to have been the norm when they were breastfeeding.

My post today is dedicated to my cousin who has really surprised me this past year when it comes to my "militant" breastfeeding.

When my 11 year old cousin (her dad is my uncle who is also my godfather) first came to see little Bee she had an interesting ritual that she would do when I would say "oh it's time to feed Bee." She would cover her eyes, run out of the room and say "I'm not looking!!!" I don't normally get up and leave the room or go hide in a corner to feed my baby, so I would just sit there and just giggle. I always wondered was it because of my boobs? You couldn't really see. Was it a modesty thing? I am still not sure, although when I was that age it was probably just a "OMG BOOBS you aren't supposed to see those."  I was like that before even when I was older. I figured that moms would just want privacy. I am glad that she was being respectful, but at the same time I didn't want her to think that to breastfeed you should go to a dark corner away from it all. But over the past year she has really grown to be comfortable with my breastfeeding and has really impressed me with her new stance and attitude towards it.

After a few times feeding Annabelle I told her that it was ok for her to stay in the room, that it wasn't anything to run away from. Eventually she would sit with me and just go about what she was doing. My proudest moment of hers was a few months ago when my uncle was teasing me (he likes to tell me to use a cover and holds up a pillow by his face all dramatic and says that I should only be giving her formula) and my cousin bursts out "DAD THAT IS THE BEST AND MOST NATURAL WAY TO FEED A BABY, GEEEEEZ!" I couldnt have been prouder!!! I joked with her mom (who is very supportive of me as well) that I had brainwashed her.

Its moments like that that make me even more excited about my choice to breastfeed loud and proud. I hope that when she is older she chooses to breastfeed and does so with the confidence that I already see in her. I know that this blog will only grow and I hope that she can look back on it when she may need help in those late hours of the night when she is at her wit's end, or that she can call me and know that I will always be there no matter what.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Breastfeeding is Easy! (For Stay-at-Home Moms)

Last Monday, I woke up some time before 6am, grateful that my 10-month-old had only woken once the previous night. We're down from 5-6 wakings (and feedings) per night to just 1-2, and it could not have come at a better time. You see, I was laid off from my full-time position when K was only 3 months old, and I've recently picked up some contract work that requires me to commute to an office a few times per week. Awesome, right? Well, mostly....

I dragged myself out of bed and immediately nursed the squirt awake, then popped him into his playpen so that I could begin the long process of preparing his food and my pumping gear for the day. I poured breastmilk that had been thawed the night before into bottles that had also been washed that night and would need to be washed again the next evening, packed them into a cooler bag with some cold packs and purees, then turned to my pump: I gingerly inspected the just-washed flanges, membranes, and diaphragms to determine if I needed to change any of them out, then packed them with six pump bottles, my pumping bra, and the pump itself into two more cooler bags, then stuffed those into another bag that also held some snacks, Mother's Milk Tea, and Fenugreek. I have a daily checklist on my phone for all of this. It has 22 items on it.

In spite of my attempt to prepare in advance the night before, we still got out of the house late that morning. My husband drove the 25min route to K's daycare while I pumped in the passenger seat. I was disappointed by the output: only 2oz when I can usually get at least 4oz at that time of day. After dropping off the baby, we switched and I drove the remaining 25min to work.

Upon arrival, I looked at my work for the day and realized that it was going to take a lot longer than I expected. This work has hard deadlines at certain hours of the day, and though I worked feverishly all morning, I was still not finished by the time my pump break rolled around. Then, I missed lunch. I was starting to panic because I might pump two hours late AND miss a meal altogether, and I knew my supply could not handle that. I was so stressed that I was shaking, and I could feel my heart racing.

Thankfully, my boss (whom, it should be noted, is a dude) was kind enough to push back our meeting, and I was able to pump and eat.... not very healthy, but it was better than nothing.  The second half of the day passed quickly, and then I was on the road again, pumping as I drove the 30+min (rush hour is nasty going the other way) back to daycare. My output wasn't as terrible as in the morning, but I knew I was still behind what my son needs in a day.

At home, I moved quickly to get all the pumped milk into the fridge and clean all the pump parts and bottles for the next day. I took care of a few other chores, nursed the baby briefly, then fed him dinner and put him to bed. Afterward, hubby and I had dinner, I pumped for the fourth time, and then transferred all the milk from my day into ice cube trays for freezing, careful to swirl the fat into the mix before pouring. I pounded a couple of Mother's Milk Teas and went to bed early, knowing K would be up in a few hours to nurse.

Tuesday, I was home for the day, so I just nursed my baby whenever he was hungry.

Is being a Stay-At-Home Mom easy? I think I speak for all women who have ever tried it when I say OH, HELL NO. But when it comes to breastfeeding, it's an absolutely massive advantage. Part of me wonders if I would still be breastfeeding if I had not lost my job. Would my supply have kept up? Would the stress of pumping four times a day and spending hours washing everything have finally burned me out? Would I have resented the fact that I spent more time with my pump than with my baby? Would middle-of-the-night feedings have worn me down until I had to just hand a bottle to my husband so I could take a break? I'd like to think that I'd be as hardcore as my fellow working mamas on this blog, but it's impossible to know.

There is some terrific information available on this blog to help working mamas maintain a thriving nursing relationship: tips like how much milk to send to daycare to avoid a bottle preference, how to use cute videos of your baby to encourage letdown, supply-boosters, and an extremely helpful overview of pumping rights. I could get into the piss-poor maternity leave policies in the US that contribute to the difficulty that working moms have with breastfeeding, but that's a topic for another post. Right now, I just want to say this:

Breastfeeding is hard. But if you're working away from your baby at all, it sometimes seems almost impossible. (In a nutshell: pumping sucks. Thank you, Captain Obvious....) So, if you're committed to breastfeeding and have the option to stay home, you should seriously consider it. If being a SAHM is not your thing or not a financial option, get your support system in place, because you will definitely need it! Offer support to your fellow mommies who are also trying to maintain a breastfeeding relationship while working, and go easy on those who struggle with that balance. And finally, (here comes the plug) keep coming back to Adventures in Breastfeeding for more tips on how to make it work!

Monday, February 3, 2014

When Life is on Mute: A Mother's Guide to Surviving Depression

I feel my face flush and my ears get warm when she asks me the question.

It was just the third day since my precious bundle had been born.  We were gathering our things to leave the hospital and my midwife came in to have me sign the discharge papers and go over postpartum care with me.

"Do you have a history of depression?"  The words leap up suddenly out of a list of mundane questions, the kind that people always say "no" to.  When I don't answer in the negative right away she looks up at me expectantly.  What's wrong with me?  I am the one who had come out on top of this beast before.  I am the one who fumes at the cultural stigma surrounding mental illness. Why am I acting embarrassed?

I'm embarrassed because my midwife has unknowingly struck a nerve where a paralyzing fear lies dormant: Am I going to be a good mother?


I've journeyed through the darkness of depression before.  You know those scenes in war movies when a grenade goes off?  The soldier is shell-shocked, reeling from the blast.  The film editors pull you into his perspective, blurring the scene, camera jarring as he shakes his head to try to make the high-pitched whining cease.  Besides that noise there is silence.  He watches as the world around him seems to happen in silent slow-motion.  It continues to move forward while he staggers, feet rooted to the ground like lead weights.

This is how I felt when I was depressed.  Glennon at Momastery has another image that describes this darkness: "A black, heavy, murky fog sets in over my heart and my head. When this happens, I do not alternate between super high and super low. During these awful times I alternate between super low and super numb. The fog is so thick that even when I get still and try to find my way home to myself – I can’t."  (Momastery also discusses depression here and PPD here.)

I walked through this tunnel feebly clinging to my faith.  Thanks to some counseling at church, patient support from my husband, and lots of prayer from family and friends, I emerged victorious.  Not victorious like I did a fist-pump in the air as the sun shone down on me, but victorious like I washed up from a shipwreck sputtering and gasping for breath, kissing the ground and thanking God I survived.

Fast-forward to my pregnancy, one of the most joyous seasons of my life, except when doubt crept in.  I worried that I was predisposed to postpartum depression.  Tiny little thoughts would gnaw at me.  Horrible, terrible, awful thoughts.  What if that darkness swallows you up while you're a mom?  What if you can't breastfeed because of this?  What if you hurt yourself and can't take care of your baby? 
                What if you are a terrible mother?

What if you are too numb to love her?

I was tempted to give in to this despair and huddle in a corner and weep.  And hear me now: if you have to do this sometimes, that's okay.  But I knew there was a lot at stake.  So I formed a plan of attack.  This plan has helped me, and may not work for you.  But if you are in a fog yourself, you may want to give one of these things a try.

Tell someone.  I was open with my husband about my worries that I would experience postpartum depression.  I promised him that after baby came, I would tell him how I was feeling instead of shrinking inside myself.  He told me he would check on me frequently and help me find words when they were difficult to say.  Planning ahead of time to talk with each other was important because depression makes me want to cower and hide from the world.  It is a battle.

Give yourself permission to feel everything, except silly.  Don't be afraid of feeling silly for being dramatic and calling this funk "depression."  When I was depressed I felt embarrassed and ashamed, like maybe I was being melodramatic or trying to get attention.  When my husband would check on me it felt awkward to say the word "depression."  It's okay to feel depressed.  It's okay to call it that.

Help yourself.  Moms are notorious for putting themselves last.  Before I had a baby I wasn't much different.  But depressed me was in survival mode, napping when I needed to and asking my husband to boot me off the couch when I needed to get outside.  My faith is my foundation so prayer was important.  I found that drawing, journaling, listening to meaningful songs- those things helped me cope, even though the fog didn't recede altogether.  I went to a counselor for several months and it worked wonders.  Do what you need to do to survive.

Talk to your care provider.  Don't automatically exclude medication because you are breastfeeding.  Talk to a doctor, midwife, or IBCLC about how you can navigate postpartum depression while you are breastfeeding your baby.  They can help you think outside the box about how to care for yourself while making sure baby is safe and healthy. 

As I worried during my pregnancy, I also prayed and remained diligent in forming my plan.  I knew if that murky fog settled in after my precious baby arrived, it wouldn't be easy, but I would be on the offensive.  Depression is an ugly thing, but surviving it is a beautiful thing.


The hospital room seems to shrink and the words linger loudly in the air. Do I have a history of depression?  My arms are warm as I cradle my sweet baby who is depending on me to nurture her.  I will myself to be brave and look my midwife in the eye.  I remember that I am stronger than that darkness.  "Yes," I say out loud, and I finish my thought in my head: but I am ready.