do you really even need a nursing bra?

do you really even need a nursing bra?

This post is sponsored by Nakturnal. All opinions are my own. 

Now that I’m definitely done breastfeeding (!!!!), I’ve been cleaning out my closet.

It’s amazing what I have buried back there.

Enough baby carriers to wear a small army. (I’m keeping all of those forever because reasons.) Maternity clothes of various seasons and sizes. (Why do I have so many summer maternity dresses when I was only ever pregnant in the winter?) And nursing bras.

This last item is particularly absurd, considering I barely ever wore nursing bras.

Buying bras is bad enough at the best of times, but buying bras while pregnant just adds insult to injury. I for one had no idea what my actual band and cup sizes were even before I got pregnant, and getting measured while pregnant? Not my idea of fun.

So if you’re pregnant and planning to breastfeed — do you need nursing bras? Here’s my argument for no:

  1. You don’t necessarily need a bra at all. Ever. No, really — hear me out. We’ve all been told all our lives that not wearing a bra will cause our breasts to sag, right? But a few years ago this study came out, and it was just the scientific excuse I’d been waiting for to quit wearing bras. This topic merits its own post, but short version: if you’re going to quit wearing bras, while you’re breastfeeding is the time to do it. Because pregnancy and breastfeeding will keep your boobs perky all on their own, at least until you wean. Enjoy it while it lasts.
  2. You don’t need an actual nursing bra. Any old bra will do, as long as it’s comfortable and it meets the criteria of the best nursing bras (most important here is fit — any squeezing on your breast tissue can lead to plugged ducts, which, believe me, you do not want). But that little latch that lets you unhook your bra to breastfeed is often more trouble than it’s worth. As long as your bra is stretchy enough, it might be simpler to just stretch it to the side and nurse that way, without bothering with a hook.
  3. You can convert any bra into a nursing bra. If you have a bra you love that fits well, and you want to be able to to unhook it so you don’t stretch it out, it’s pretty easy to add hooks to the strap of any bra. I did a couple of these myself (because I was crazy during my first pregnancy and thought I wanted to sew things), but you can probably get it done professionally for a very reasonable fee.

Not convinced? Maybe you do need a nursing bra. Here are the arguments in favor:

  1. Nursing bras are designed to adjust to your changing breasts. Your cup size can change considerably while you’re breastfeeding — as much as a size or two just over the course of the day. Most bras are designed to hold a specific shape and size, while a good nursing bra is designed to stretch and shrink to accommodate your body changes.
  2. You need new bras anyway and you deserve good ones. This was actually the reason I did go get fitted and buy expensive nursing bras during my first pregnancy. The chances of your pre-pregnancy bras continuing to fit during pregnancy and postpartum are essentially zero, so you might as well get some good bras — and if you’re planning to breastfeed, there’s no reason not to buy nursing bras.
  3. Some nursing bras are multi-purpose. My favorites are nursing tanks, which have a built-in bra (real bra, not shelf bra!) and the added benefit of keeping your belly covered if you pull your shirt up to nurse (huge bonus for breastfeeding in public). My absolute favorite of these, which I sadly didn’t discover till my babies were too big for its primary purpose, is the Lalabu babywearing shirt (still my favorite bra, even though I’m way past breastfeeding).

At this point, though? I can probably let most of these go. Anybody in the market for a Bravado?

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5 things a breastfeeding mom can do when she can’t sue

5 things a breastfeeding mom can do when she can’t sue

Texas representative Debbie Riddle got all the lactivists up in arms last week when she posted on Facebook that she opposed a bill that would enable breastfeeding women to sue someone who interfered with their right to breastfeed. Her argument was that breastfeeding is already legal, and a lawsuit would be going too far, and anyway there’s nothing wrong with a little modesty. All reasonable points — if she had never breastfed. Since she claims she did breastfeed, I can only conclude that 1) She only breastfed for six weeks and never left the house with her baby during that time; 2) She did scheduled feedings instead of the (recommended) on-demand feedings; or 3) Her breastfeeding days were so long ago that she just doesn’t remember what it’s like to breastfeed a newborn. Or maybe 4) She was just lucky and was never criticized for breastfeeding.

Because anybody who has breastfed a newborn out of the house — and especially anyone who’s been criticized for it — knows perfectly well that 1) Modesty in that situation is frequently impossible; and 2) A lawsuit isn’t going too far. If anything, a lawsuit doesn’t go far enough. Combine postpartum hormones, leaking boobs, a screaming baby, and a nasty look from a stranger, and that stranger should count himself lucky to walk away with a lawsuit. He could walk away with much, much worse.

So. If you are like me and live in one of the many states where even though your right to breastfeed is nominally protected, you have no legal resource if it’s questioned, fear not. You have many other recourses. Like these. Feel free to try one the next time someone gives your boob the stink eye.

1.  Throw a blanket over his head. (The critic’s head. Not your baby’s.) Problem solved.

2. Use this hat. That will make him look twice. And three times. Actually he probably won’t be able to look away. He’ll be entranced by your baby’s clever fashion sense. And who can blame him?

3. Spout statistics and facts. Most people are easily overwhelmed by science and/or numbers. Memorize the legislation citation for your state’s breastfeeding law (it’s Ga Code 31-1-9) and recite it verbatim, complete with the number. Practice this till you can say it fast. Memorize a few statistics or facts on the benefits of breastfeeding, and recite those as well. Keep talking till the naysayer gets scared and backs away slowly.

4. Laugh. And mean it. Criticism is silly. It’s nothing to get mad about. Just smile and nod and keep doing what you’re doing.

5. Squirt him in the eye. It’s poetic justice, really. He doesn’t want to see breastmilk? Let him get a closer view. It won’t hurt him.

See what I mean? Lawsuits may not be so bad.

Photo: Lorna Watt

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how sharing breastfeeding can change your life

how sharing breastfeeding can change your life

Our culture is squeamish about breastfeeding. We think breasts are sexual, breastfeeding is a private act, and breast milk is a dangerous substance that spreads disease, pestilence, and subversive thinking. Sure, breast is best and all that, but keep it in private, people. And nowhere is this more obvious than in our attitude toward cross nursing.

Cross nursing, in case you don’t know, means nursing someone else’s baby. It was common as daylight a hundred years ago, when wet nurses were employed by women who couldn’t or didn’t want to breastfeed. But since the invention of formula, cross nursing has been stigmatized. Even the “lactivist hippies” of La Leche League discourage it, and the average woman on the street is disgusted by the idea. Sure, the breast-is-best movement has sparked a small but noticeable revival of wet nursing. But those who do it are secretive about it.

And when it happens accidentally? Bad news. This woman’s baby was breastfed by another mom last week because of a hospital mix-up. This ought to have sparked an outcry about hospital procedures that involve separating babies from their moms (this could never have happened if the babies were rooming-in), but instead the hospital is saying that the poor baby needs to be repeatedly tested for HIV and hepatitis over the next year. Seriously? Was the other mom HIV positive? Because if she was, then why was she breastfeeding her own baby? And if she wasn’t, then why the worry? Sure, I’d be concerned too if my baby was breastfed by a total stranger, but I don’t think it deserves this level of fear. But maybe that’s just because I’m a crazy hippie mom who always wished for some help breastfeeding my babies.

I haven’t done much cross nursing, but I often wished to. I finally have a mama tribe now that’s comfortable with cross nursing, and it really has changed my life. Here’s how.

You can take a break. Having a babysitter who can nurse your baby is magic. Baby won’t take a bottle? No problem. Baby will only fall asleep nursing? Taken care of. If I’d had this when Anastasia was little, let me tell you, I would have had a lot more evenings out with my husband. I haven’t actually taken advantage of this with Teddy, because right now if I skip or even shorten a nursing session, I get mastitis. (At least it seems that way.) Which brings me to my next point:

You can get help with engorgement when you’re away from your baby. Last weekend I went to a party with my mama tribe. I left both kids at home with Dad — my first time doing that, so it was a real treat! But three hours away from the kids? Not good for my boobs. Lucky for me, my friend who has twin newborns was at the party. While she was nursing one, she handed me the other, and I nursed him to sleep.

You can learn to breastfeed. When my friend handed me her second twin, she told me I could breastfeed him if I would fix his latch. He makes a clicking sound. I wasn’t able to fix it — I suspect he has a tongue tie — but it made all of us at the party think about the value of experienced moms breastfeeding new babies. After all, when you have your first baby, you’re both totally new at breastfeeding. You learn to do it together. Which is why it’s often easier with your second baby — by that time, at least one of you knows what you’re doing. So if a first-time mom is having a problem breastfeeding, it just makes sense for a more experienced mom to try breastfeeding her baby. She knows how a good latch is supposed to look and feel, and she knows how to hold a baby and help him latch. It takes one variable out of the equation.

You can bond with other mamas and babies. I don’t agree at all with the idea that breastfeeding is a special, private bonding. (In case you hadn’t figured that out.) At least I don’t think it’s any more private or bonding than bottle feeding, or rocking to sleep, or babywearing. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t special. I love rocking other people’s babies to sleep and bottle feeding them, and I love cross nursing in the same way, for the same reasons. Knowing that another mom trusts you enough to help her take care of her young baby is a special thing. Cuddling, rocking, and bonding with someone else’s baby is a special thing. And having friends that you trust like that, and who trust you, is pure magic.

You can do it safely.  I mentioned that I thought the mother, not the baby, was the one who should be tested. And ideally, I think moms who are nursing each other’s kids should be tested. I wouldn’t let anyone breastfeed my babies before I asked them what they’d been tested for — and trusted them enough to believe them about the results. But with a few guidelines in place, I think cross-nursing can be very safe, and it can help in many ways.

I feel lucky to have a mama tribe that practices cross nursing. You can feel squeamish or laugh all you want. Someday I’ll get a job as a wet nurse for some big celebrity. Then I’ll be the one laughing — all the way to the bank.

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New York breastfeeding initiative: more control or more choice?

New York breastfeeding initiative: more control or more choice?

On September 3, some New York City hospitals will implement a new policy. Formula will no longer be given to newborns for free. In fact, it won’t be given without a doctor’s order. Instead of being readily available in nurseries, it will be kept locked in a cabinet, and nurses will need written permission to bottle feed an infant.

Most of the response to this idea has been negative. It’s been called a “ban,” a “nanny state”, a push that “forces” women to breastfeed, a move to take away choice.

But as much as I support mother’s feeding choices, I think the naysayers on this one are dead wrong.

Why?

First, let me clear up a few myths that have been circulating about the Latch On initiative. It does not involve banning formula from hospitals so it’s unavailable for babies who need it. Nor does it involve lecturing mothers who ask for formula. What it does involve is a conversation between mothers and nurses before a baby is given formula. Yes, there needs to be a “medical reason” to dispense formula. How exactly that will be applied is anyone’s guess right now — is the mother’s mental health a medical reason? How about her simple desire to formula feed? If you’re planning on formula feeding, will your doctor write a note before your baby is born stating that you plan to formula feed and your  baby can have formula? I’m going to go out on a limb and say probably yes.

But let’s suppose they won’t. Let’s suppose that a woman who is planning to formula feed without a “medical” reason will not be “allowed” to get formula at the hospital. I doubt that’s the case, but even if it were, is this really such a horrible thing? Because here’s the truth: Nothing is free at hospitals. Nothing. They charge you for drinking water, diapers, gowns, and maxi pads. The only thing that’s free to a birthing woman at a hospital is formula, which many women don’t even want. And it’s not free because the hospital is concerned about the well-being of hungry babies. It’s free because formula companies pay for it — out of their marketing budget — and give it to hospitals. Because they know that babies who have formula during the first few days are much, much more likely to become long-term customers. How is that ethical? How is that choice?

And that is why you bring stuff to the hospital. You bring your own chapstick and baby clothes. You probably bring a few diapers and even some toiletries for yourself. Is it really that big a deal to bring some formula if you know you want to use it? And if you’re going to argue that some women can’t afford it, let me point out the obvious that you’re going to have to buy it when you get home anyway, and WIC includes formula.

And in any case, the women who walk into the hospital planning to formula feed are a significant minority. That doesn’t make their needs or desires any less important. But it does mean there are a lot more women who are having the opposite problem. In New York City, 90% of women walk into the hospital stating they intend to breastfeed. But only 39% of newborns are exclusively breastfed. That means around 50% of mothers are not succeeding in their chosen plan. They’re not formula feeding because they want to — they’re formula feeding because something went wrong.

And what went wrong? For some of them, it’s just biology. Their bodies simply don’t produce enough milk and never would have. But, although nobody knows exact statistics on how many women that’s true for, the likelihood is that most women are capable of breastfeeding. Which means that many of these women could have breastfed, and the problem was preventable.

And much of the time, the thing that went wrong was not just preventable — it was something that a medical professional did wrong.

Look, I’m no expert on breastfeeding. I’m just a mom who happens to have been breastfeeding for way too long and who likes to read about it. But I know more about breastfeeding than some medical professionals. I know this because many of my friends have told me things their pediatrician or obstetrician or nurse said to them, and sometimes I know that what the medical professional told them is just plain wrong. Things like “Your baby just needs a few bottles till your milk comes in” or “Newborns only need to eat every three hours, and if he seems hungry more often then you’re not producing enough” or “You should never let him nurse longer than 10 minutes at a time.” These statements aren’t just terribly inaccurate — they’re terribly undermining to a mother’s choices. Because “just a few bottles” means a lot more than a few formula feedings. For many mother-baby pairs, it undermines the whole breastfeeding process to the point that breastfeeding becomes impossible. And that’s a big deal. That is taking away the mother’s choice.

And that’s the real issue behind this initiative. It’s not about breast being best or breastmilk being magic or formula being awful. It’s not about making women feel guilty about the choice to not breastfeed. It’s about stopping practices that force women to bottle feed — practices that are commonly done by people who really should know better.

Take, for example, formula supplementation of breastfed babies. It’s rampant in hospitals. As one friend of mine pointed out in a discussion about this initiative, a woman’s who’s planning to formula feed doesn’t need to worry that a nurse will breastfeed her baby in the nursery. (Cue mental image of a Salma-Hayek-style guerrilla breastfeeding movement, with nurses in masks whipping out their boobs for NICU babies.) But a woman’s who’s planning to breastfeed needs to watch like a hawk to prevent a nurse giving her baby a bottle. Is it really such a big deal to create a policy that adds an extra layer of protection to prevent that? Especially when you consider that a “just a bottle or two” could actually make it impossible for her to breastfeed at all?

The way I see it, this initiative isn’t going to make formula “unavailable” for women who choose it. All it’s going to do is add an extra step so that someone with a accurate information about breastfeeding talks to a mother before she agrees to unnecessary supplementation. If some uninformed nurse tells her that her one-day-old baby needs formula because her milk hasn’t come in yet, hopefully this extra conversation will be enough to reassure her.

Because I’m sorry, but giving out free formula to every mother and supplementing at the drop of the hat is not supportive of mother’s feeding choices. Not at all. Breastfeeding is a choice too, and until we have policies in place that truly support it, none of us are choosing freely.

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how to breastfeed a teething baby

how to breastfeed a teething baby

Being a mother is painful. There’s pregnancy, for starters, which is awful, and labor, which is sometimes worse. And then there are long sleepless nights and the awful postpartum body and the constant worry that you’re doing everything wrong.

But there’s something special about the pain of being bitten while breastfeeding a baby who’s just cut his first teeth.

For one thing, these are new teeth we’re talking about. They haven’t been worn down yet by the grind of chewing solid foods like, you know, applesauce. They’re sharp. For another, the baby has never bitten anything before, so when he discovers the novelty of the action — and the excitement of being able to elicit a rather impressive reaction from you — he may want to repeat it. Constantly. But worst of all is the realization that you have to deliberately put your boob back in harm’s way — into the jaws of death, as it were — because that’s the way you feed your baby. And your reluctance to risk getting bitten in a very tender spot conflicts with your fear of starving your baby.

Not to mention the fact that your first reaction to the pain of a bite — which you may or may not act on — is probably to punch your baby’s face and shove him unceremoniously away from you. And possibly throw him on the ground.

Talk about mom guilt.

Fortunately, the biting stage usually doesn’t last long. Most babies will try it, but most will quickly figure out that they can’t eat effectively and bite at the same time. Once the novelty wears off, they’ll go back to a correct and comfortable latch. In the meantime, you can survive — and even breastfeed through it. Here’s how.

1. Make sure he’s really hungry. The most efficient way for your baby to get milk is for him to press your breast between his tongue and the roof of his mouth. Which means that his teeth should never touch you. When he bites, he’s not eating — and chances are he’s not hungry. So wait till he’s really hungry to offer, and stop when he slows down.

2. Don’t push — pull. When something (or someone) is biting you, you get a primal urge to get away from them. So your natural reaction is to push your baby away. But when your nipple is caught between his teeth, trust me — moving him away from you is a bad idea. Pulling him closer will actually cause him to let go. I’ve heard this is because it pushes his nose into your breast and forces him to open his mouth so he can breathe. I don’t want to know if this is true, because then I would feel guilty for attempting to suffocate my baby. In any case, it works. Hug him tight. He’ll let go.

3. Try different reactions. You may not have a choice about this one. I can’t help but scream. Loudly. Something about getting bitten by really sharp teeth has that effect on me. But some babies are amused by a dramatic reaction and may want to do it more if you scream. Other babies might be terrified by your scream and go on a nursing strike as a result. So if you’re able to control your reaction, try calmer responses — such as a firm, gentle “No” or setting him down for a minute — to see what’s most effective at discouraging biting.

4. Give him a teether. If what he really wants is to chew on something, indulge that desire. Give him something to chew on. Other than your boob. If he’s really hungry, he won’t be happy with the teether, but a little break can help. You can also try giving him a teether before he nurses, to soothe the gums ahead of time so he isn’t so eager to bite on something while he’s eating.

5. Stop when he’s done. Watch him closely while he’s nursing, and as soon as he stops sucking, pulls away, or seems distracted — unlatch him. Fast. It’s impossible for him to bite while he’s actually eating, but the instant he stops sucking, your nipple is in danger. Even if he doesn’t actually bite, mobile babies will often roll or pull away with the boob still in their mouths, which is also unpleasant and unnecessary. Prevention is better than cure. Watch carefully, and when he’s finished eating, unlatch him before he has a chance to strike.

Most importantly, remind yourself that, like all things parenting, this will pass. In a few short months, the bite marks on your breasts will fade, and the next set of teeth will break through, and you’ll be worrying about a whole new set of problems, like whether to feed him banana, avocado, or applesauce for dinner. In the meantime, breathe.

And try not to scream.

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frozen breast milk teethers

My baby has started solids, and I’m realizing now why it’s hard for some families to maintain breastfeeding for a year.

Both the AAP and the WHO recommend that breast milk or formula be the primary source of nutrition till age one, with solids serving only as a supplement. But some babies have different ideas. My older daughter had little (read: NO) interest in solids till she was much older (like, 14 months maybe?). But my baby is different. He loves solids. Not that he doesn’t still like breastfeeding, of course. But he loves solids.

Plus he’s teething, which means that sometimes he chews on my boob instead of nursing, which is more painful than giving birth and has seriously caused me to reconsider long-term breastfeeding at 3 am.

I’m not really worried about continuing to breastfeed Teddy, because I’ve been through this before and obviously I kept breastfeeding, and I have no doubt that I’ll do the same with him. But I have found myself giving him solids a lot more willingly than I did with Anastasia at this age. Baby-led weaning makes it so easy to feed solids — easier than breastfeeding, even, which for me is saying a lot — and it makes mealtimes much more pleasant, too. He’s still young enough that he doesn’t get a lot of actual nutrition from solids, because he’s still figuring out the hand-eye coordination skills to actually get food in his mouth, but I’m sure that pretty soon he’ll be able to eat as much as I put in front of him. And at some point, I might start to worry that he’s getting more nutrition from solids than I want him to, simply because he enjoys playing with them so much.

And if that ever happens, then I will definitely try this trick.

I heard about frozen breast milk teethers from a friend. It’s a great solution to all these problems, because it allows your baby to get nutrition from breast milk while also playing with his food. And he can teeth on it. It’s a win-win.

The trick is simply to freeze breast milk in small amounts — ice cube containers are perfect — and then put the breast milk cube in a mesh feeder. Then the baby can teeth on breast milk during dinner if he’s already had enough solids for the day. Obviously this is more work than just giving him the same food we’re eating, but it’s definitely something I’d like to incorporate into our menus occasionally. It would also be a good afternoon snack on a hot afternoon when Big Sister is having a homemade popsicle and baby wants one of his own.

Have you ever tried this? What did your baby think?

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breastfeeding in a carrier: amazingly auspicious advice

This post is the second in a series of quick useful tips for moms. Today’s amazingly auspicious advice is a trick I discovered out of necessity: the trick of breastfeeding in a carrier. While walking around. It can totally be done.

My normal way to breastfeed now is actually to go for a walk.

Best part? This works for just about any carrier.

Some carriers (such as a pouch or ring sling) allow for a cradle hold, but that isn’t really recommended any more, especially for newborns. So in most carriers, you’ll be holding your baby in an upright position. If you want to breastfeed, then obviously you’ll have your baby in front, facing you. Although you can do this trick with your baby in a hip carry, too, if your boobs are big enough and you have absolutely no shame.

But assuming you want to be somewhat modest, you’ll want to put the baby in a front carry. You’ll need to loosen the carrier so you can lower your baby slightly — not enough to pull uncomfortably on your shoulders, but lower than you would have him normally. And then comes the real trick: you need to raise your boob. If you have largish boobs (and let’s be honest, most of us do when we’re breastfeeding), then the best thing to do is to pull your boob up over the top of your bra and/or the neck of your shirt, without unhooking anything. The fabric will help hold your boob up at a higher level. Hopefully right around the level of your baby’s mouth. Ta-da. You’re breastfeeding in the carrier.

This won’t work with most brand-new newborns — your baby needs to be old enough to have a little bit of head control. If your baby just can’t latch on in an upright position, go back to sitting on the couch and try again in a few weeks.

If you want more detailed instructions, I’ve got them here.

Have you got a great, practical tip you want to share with other moms? Submit it here!

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who’s who in the breastfeeding support network

who’s who in the breastfeeding support network

This is a guest post by Danielle Downs Spradlin. Danielle is a Certified Lactation Counselor accredited through the Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice. She is a veteran nursing mother who wants mothers to meet their breastfeeding goals. Her practice focuses on infant-mother well being, evidence-based solutions, and making breastfeeding an enjoyable and healthy time for the whole family. Please check out her lactation counseling services and classes

Dear Moms and Moms-to-be: You are not alone on your breastfeeding journey. Let your partner and health care team know you plan to breastfeed and what role you need them to play to support you and your baby. Mothers spend a great deal of time preparing for the birth process, which only lasts a short time. A successful breastfeeding relationship will last a year or more. Amass your team, and tell them to get prepared.

Co-parent: The non-lactating parent has a crucial role to play in making breastfeeding work for the family. From advocate and supporter in the delivery room to butler and diaper genius months later, there is plenty of co-parenting to be done while baby is at the breast. A laboring mother may need the co-parent to advocate for early skin-to-skin at delivery, prevent any mother-baby separation, or help latch the baby after a cesarean birth. The non-lactating parent has plenty of early bonding opportunities like bathing, changing, dressing, and rocking the new baby. These care and bonding opportunities also give mom a chance to care for herself during the postpartum recovery period. In the days and weeks that follow, mom needs an extra set of hands while nursing. Bring her a sandwich or other food that can be eaten with one hand. Bring her a pillow or the TV remote if she and babe are in for a marathon feeding. And tell her she is doing a great job. Tell her she is beautiful.

Doula: Many doulas have some level of lactation education. At your birth and in the early days postpartum, a doula can be a real “breast saver”. Women using doula services are statistically less likely to receive birth process interventions that are commonly associated with breastfeeding challenges. A doula can help advocate for both mother and baby as well as give the new mother confidence to feed her baby at the breast. Doulas are often familiar with early signs of breastfeeding complications such as mastitis or clogged ducts. Early detection is key to resolving breastfeeding issues and preventing new ones. Doulas can help a mother practice different holds and positions to make breastfeeding comfortable from the start. Some postpartum doulas even help around the home to ensure mom gets plenty of time to relax and feed her new baby uninterrupted.

Midwife or obstetrician: The health care provider who attends your delivery is very specialized in attending births. He or she should know the ten steps outlined by the World Health Organization to facilitate successful breast feeding after delivery. When discussing your birth plan, let your attendant know you plan to breastfeed and discuss the WHO 10 step protocol. It’s your attendant’s job to help you meet your birth and breastfeeding goals during this special time. Also ask if the practice has a staff lactation consultant for you to see, should the need arise, during your postpartum period. Mothers using LC services in the early weeks postpartum may need to work in tandem with their birth attendant if prescriptions or medical referrals are needed.

Lactation Consultant: Many mothers find an LC helpful before the birth. Breastfeeding group classes or private consultations can make learning this new skill easier and give mothers confidence and information to succeed. Breastfeeding classes also give mothers a chance to network with other women who plan to deliver and breastfeed around the same time period. Mothers with special health concerns or who take a medication can benefit from contacting an LC before they deliver. Most common medications and health issues are not contraindicated for breastfeeding. For mothers who have weekend births, LCs may be limited or unavailable for a visit before mom and baby leave the hospital. If you have any breastfeeding questions, request to see your delivery attendant or the LC before you’re discharged. If your birth facility does not have a staff LC, many private practice LCs do house calls. At a house call, the LC will evaluate your baby’s latch, milk transfer, and everyone’s comfort. The LC’s job is to keep mother and baby comfortable and healthy. Most private practice LCs can begin answering questions over the phone to get you on track to breastfeed right away. Have a phone number handy, and call right away, even if you think it’s a silly question. Nothing is silly when it comes to making sure your baby is healthy.

Your Family & Friends: Your mother, co-workers, aunts, sisters, sorority sisters, neighbors, and cousins may or may not have breastfeeding experience. If they do, great! They will most likely know exactly what kind of help you need in the early days and in the months to follow. If not, they can still be on your support team. Be clear when you have visitors of what kind of help they can give you. Don’t be shy to ask for help with domestic work while you are resting and getting to know your baby. If you have a close family member or friend who will be helping more than others, invite her along to a breastfeeding class or new mother support group. Hearing about your needs from a third person can help clarify the support role that needs filling.

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how to thaw frozen breast milk

how to thaw frozen breast milk

This post is the first of a series I’m starting called “Amazingly Auspicious Advice.” These will be very brief posts with a single useful tip. Most of the tips will be submitted by readers. If you’d like to submit a super-useful, practical tip for other moms, do it here.

My first tip is from my friend Amber. She has a solution for spilled milk. You know how you’re supposed to thaw frozen breast milk by placing it in a bowl of warm water? Have you ever done that only to discover that the bag the breast milk was in had a hole in it? So you come back to a bowl of lukewarm, watered-down breast milk?

Here’s the thing. When milk freezes, it expands. So if the bag was pretty full — or even if the bag was just compressed enough inside the freezer because of how it was lying — then freezing the milk can create tiny holes in the bag. Not good. The solution? Before you put it in the bowl of warm water, put it in another ziplock bag. Yay. No more spilled milk.

Have you got a great tip you’d love to share with other moms? Submit it!

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how to breastfeed a toddler

how to breastfeed a toddler

After the big TIME cover last week, extended breastfeeding is becoming a lot more mainstream. Most moms I know are pretty sure they want to wean around age one. But now that you’ve seen Jamie doing it, I would not be surprised if a few of you are thinking, Well, why not? Of course I’m mom enough. Maybe I’ll breastfeed into the second year.

And you’re probably thinking it’s going to be a lot of fun. She makes it look easy, right? You’re thinking it’s going to be all bonding and rainbows and unicorns.

Far be it from me to burst your bubble. Yes, breastfeeding a toddler is loads of fun. Far more fun than breastfeeding a newborn. And since now you can’t wait to experience it for yourself, let me tell you how it’s done.

1. Figure out what to give your toddler for breakfast. (Because after the first year, you’re supposed to offer healthy solids before breast milk.) This may require several tries. Several weeks of trying, actually. After weeks of attempting various meals, discover that your toddler loves scrambled eggs and smoothies. Ask her if she wants scrambled eggs and a strawberry smoothie for breakfast.

2. She says yes. And she wants to help make it. Let her climb on her stool and “help” crack the eggs.

3. Clean up the egg that she dropped on the floor.

4. Wash off the raw egg that she got on her hands while she was helping you clean up the egg on the floor.

5. Try to wipe the inside of her mouth clean of the raw egg she licked off her hands. Fail because she already swallowed it. Give up and reassure yourself it was organic egg so it probably won’t give her salmonella.

6. Put the eggs on the stove on low. Don’t let her move her stool next to the stove.

7. Get out the frozen strawberries and juice.

8. Repeat steps 2 through 4, replacing “egg” with smoothie ingredients.

9. Let her push the button on the blender.

10. Turn off blender quickly and clean up strawberries that flew everywhere because you forgot to put the lid on the blender because you are still half asleep because you haven’t had coffee yet.

11. Set her down at table with smoothie and eggs. Make coffee.

12. Twenty minutes later, she hasn’t touched food and is begging for mama milk. Decide you will eat her “leftovers” because you are starving.

13. While sitting at table, pull down shirt, pull up boob, and lean forward.

14. Eat the eggs and smoothie while toddler nurses standing in front of you.

15. Push her hand away every time she tries to twist your other nipple. Tell her, “No! You get one boobie at a time.”

16. Take her hand off your necklace before she pulls so hard she breaks it. Wonder why you are wearing a necklace. Wish you could find your nursing necklace.

17. Decide you are done nursing because your back is aching from leaning forward in awkward position. Tell her it’s time to unlatch. She grunts and wiggles closer, holding onto your boob with both hands. Tell her you are going to count to ten and then you’ll be done. Count to ten. She unlatches reluctantly.

18. Clean up smoothie and egg that you spilled on the floor because you were eating with one hand while leaning forward over your toddler’s head.

19. Sit on couch and watch toddler play while posting a Facebook status on your phone. (Your status says: “Anybody up for a playdate today? I have got to get out of the house STAT!!!)

20. Toddler stubs her toe, screams and climbs into your lap. She grabs at your boobs. You pull out the other boob.

21. She latches on and lies on her side.

22. Push her hand away as she tries to twist your other nipple.

23. Her feet wander up your side and onto your shoulder. She starts to kick. Her foot hits your face. Push her feet back down to the couch. Repeat indefinitely.

24. Your boob starts to hurt. You offer a snack. She reluctantly unlatches. Get some crackers and grapes. She eats 1.5 crackers.

25. You sit down on couch again. Friend’s mom calls and asks if you want to meet at playground. Heck yes.

26. Put toddler in carrier on back and walk to playground.

27. Meet friend at playground. Friend has brought a ball. Oh dear.

28. Your toddler tries to grab ball. Friend hits her and tries to grab ball back. She screams and holds onto it. They tug the ball back and forth as you and other mom chant in unison, “Share! Share! We must share the ball!”

29. After five minutes of watching them fight, you give up on teaching sharing and go for practicality. “Come here, baby! Have some mama milk!” you say, and your toddler drops the ball like a hot potato and stumbles back to you.

30. Sit on park bench. Since you have a tank top on underneath your shirt, you pull shirt up and tank down in an effort to be discreet. Toddler sits on your lap facing you and shoves your shirt up to expose your boob up to your neck. Give up on modesty and shrug apologetically at the other moms who stare at you in shock.

31. Realize it’s lunchtime. Say goodbye to friend and put toddler in carrier. Walk home.

32. Repeat steps 1 through 6, replacing “egg” with “chicken.”

33. Cut up cooked chicken and put on a plate with some grapes. Set on table. Make a similar plate for yourself and sit next to her. Eat while watching her throw food on floor.

34. Naptime. Carry her to bedroom and lie down with her. Nurse. She wiggles and kicks until her body is turned around so her feet are at your face.

35. Unlatch her, pick her up, turn her back around, and wrap your arms and legs around her in a “human swaddle” so she can’t move. Nurse.

36. She falls asleep. Wait till her breathing is slow. Unlatch carefully. She stays asleep. Roll slowly away.

37. Think about cleaning kitchen. Try to get up.

38. Wake up. You did not mean to nap. She is still asleep. Thank goodness.

39. Get up. Drink some cold coffee. Consider which mess in kitchen to tackle first.

40. Hear her crying.

41. Go back, lie next to her, and nurse. She does not wiggle. She lies still and peaceful and smiles at you around your nipple. Realize you are finally experiencing what you thought nursing a toddler should be like. Smile back.

42. She unlatches and says, “I love you, Mommy.” Your day is made.

I guess those people are right who say any mom who nurses that long is really just doing it for herself.

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