Posts Tagged ‘pumping’

Getting Over the Fear of Not Making Enough Milk While Breastfeeding

Monday, November 21st, 2016
getting over the fear that you aren't making enough milk

“When a baby is hungry, he tends to clench his fists tightly and bring them toward his face. If he falls asleep hungry, his fists usually stay clenched. But when he gets milk, he relaxes starting with his face. Then his shoulders relax, and finally those fists unclench. Eventually they’re as limp as the rest of him. Thing of his hands as a built-in fuel gauge.” p.120 Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

When my son was first born, we had a difficult time figuring out breastfeeding. It was challenging and stressful for both of us. In the very beginning, he lost weight instead of gaining and was extremely fussy. I contacted my acupuncturist and told her I thought my milk supply had decreased significantly. I didn’t think that I was making the amount that my baby needed and didn’t know what to do because my goal was to breastfeed until he was 12 months old. She had me come right in and she worked her magic with her needles to help get the milk flowing again, if it was true that I was having issues with my milk supply.

The amount of milk that a baby consumes while breastfeeding can be such a mystery, especially if they are exclusively breastfed like both of my children who refused bottles. It can be nerve-wracking wondering if an extra fussy baby means that they are actually starving because they are not getting enough milk. Since it was my first experience with breastfeeding, I was always seeking proof that my body was making the correct amount of milk that my baby needed.  These are some ways that eventually helped me feel confident that body was doing the job that it was supposed to, so I could get over my fear that I was not producing enough milk:

  • At breastfeeding support groups, lactation consultants weighed my baby right before I breastfed him and then immediately after.  The number of ounces that he gained was proof that he was consuming a good amount.
  • Regular wet diapers proved to me that the process was working.
  • Appropriate weight gaining was on track and was proven at regular doctor check-ups.
  • Pumping milk into baby bottles to maintain a back-up supply showed me the number of ounces that my body was producing.

With my second baby, I learned to trust the process and reminded myself regularly that my body knew how to do it and would get the job done.

Sarah Cole is a stay at home mommy to two busy toddlers.  She nursed both of her babies until they were almost 2 years-old.  Now, she wonders if her picky eaters are getting enough food at each meal.

When To Dump The Pump

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 8.26.58 AMThere comes a certain time during a mother’s breastfeeding journey when she is ready to dump the pump.  I was ready to dump my pump as soon as I had my first experience using it.  The noises it made and the way it made me feel worked against the machine from the very start.  After 3 years, I continue to look forward to someday officially being able to dump the pump.

In the beginning, I desperately needed my breast pump to keep my supply up and to have bottles of breast milk to send to daycare with my son.  Once my son refused a bottle completely at around 5 months old and I became a stay at home mom, I questioned how much longer I would need to keep my pump around.  I occasionally used it just in case he ever cooperated and took a bottle. It also came in handy when he started sleeping through the night and I would wake up with more milk than I needed in the early morning hours.  I was very hesitant to dump my pump with my first child since it was my first time breastfeeding.  I didn’t use the pump after he turned a year old, but I still waited to donate the pump until I was completely finished nursing him.
Less than two years after starting my breastfeeding journey with my son, my daughter was born.  I received a new breast pump in the hospital and thought “here we go again”.  Luckily, my daughter was a great nurser and since I was not going to be working, I didn’t need a supply for bottles early on.  I did pump once in a while, so that I could try to give my daughter a bottle sometimes.  But, she refused bottles just like her brother.  I was dumbfounded and also somewhat relieved that I wouldn’t need to spend as much time with my pump.
Again, I wasn’t too quick to dump my pump.  A few cases of mastitis and several clogged ducts later, created attachment issues with my pump.  Even though my pump has been sitting in my closet and hasn’t been used in over 6 months, I am still afraid to officially dump the pump.  I’m pretty sure I will hang on to it until I am completely finished with breastfeeding, whenever that may be.
Sarah Cole stays at home with her two busy toddlers and has been breastfeeding for over 3 years.

Do you Brelfie?

Friday, July 31st, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 11.58.05 AM

So by now we all know what a selfie is, right? I’m sure you’ve seen hundreds of your friends and have probably taken a few yourself. But how about the brelfie? Recently, some social media users have been tossing out the term “brelfie” to refer to their own photos of themselves nursing their babies. Frankly, while I’m not a big fan of funny word mashups, I am a huge fan of these photos.

do you brelfie?

In the past few months, the “brelfie” has taken the Internet by storm and has stirred up quite the controversy. Super model Gisele Bundchen shared this beautiful photo back in December of 2013. Doutzen Kroes, a Victoria’s Secret model and a woman who many might say epitomizes the idea that women’s breasts are for sexual appreciation, has also been spotlighted in this discussion, since she has shared a number of photos of herself breastfeeding or using a breast pump. She went so far as to  clearly depict the juxtaposition of what people find acceptable and unacceptable when it comes to her breasts in this particular photo, quoting Iris Marion Young: “Breasts are a scandal because they shatter the border between motherhood and sexuality.”

Kathie Lee and Hoda weighed in on the matter, indicating that they disapproved of the trend. Kathie Lee implied that nursing is a personal, private matter not to be shared with the public. Hoda agreed, calling breastfeeding photos “TMI”. As a result, the Today Show found themselves the focus of a very public outcry and “nurse-in” in Rockefeller Plaza. While each woman is entitled to her opinion on the topic, such public figures speaking out against breastfeeding photos only serves to remind us that we’ve been conditioned to believe that breasts are only to be viewed publicly as sexual objects, not as biological vessels for feeding our children.

Once upon a time, generation after generation was breastfed with pretty much no other option. You could even make a career breastfeeding other people’s babies if you were particularly good at it! Society didn’t see public breastfeeding as perverse, or something to be hidden, because they saw it for what it truly is: feeding a baby. We didn’t shy from it; we painted pictures of it! We didn’t hide away to feed our babies; we went about our daily lives! Breastfeeding was normal.


Then, in the early 1900s, the breastfeeding mother came under assault. The attackers were well financed formula companies, and they won. Formula, once a fantastic advancement of modern technology for cases when breastfeeding wasn’t an option, suddenly became the BEST option for all moms (according to them). They convinced us that formula was healthier than breastmilk. They convinced hospitals to promote formula over nursing. They convinced society that bottles were normal and breasts were not.

Facebook, which has long been attacked for their weak stance on breastfeeding photos, has finally come out in support of the breastfeeding mother and will no longer remove a photo of breastfeeding (assuming the photo does not violate other standards). This is important, because the removal of breastfeeding photos implies that breastfeeding is something to be done in private, or worse, something akin to pornography. It’s not. It’s biology. It’s nature. Breastfeeding should be so normal to us that we don’t bat an eye at it, and that, right there, is why I love the emergence of the brelfie.

Photos of breastfeeding mothers are our own grassroots, modern-day response to those well financed formula campaigns. They bring nursing back into the public eye. They show breastfeeding for what it truly is: feeding a baby with the means that our bodies gave us. They normalize it. Breastfeeding is not exhibitionism. Taking a photo while nursing is not attention seeking. The brelfie is simply photographic evidence of everyday life for hundreds of thousands of mothers around the world.

So I say yes to the brelfie! Parents, take pictures of your newborn in her crib for the first time. Take pictures of them sleeping. Take pictures of that first spaghetti disaster and of those first steps. And take pictures of your nursing journey. It’s your life, right now, and you probably want to remember it just as clearly as all of those other precious baby moments.

Kate Cunha lives in the Pacific NW and is a huge supporter of the #normalizebreastfeeding movement.


Breastmilk and the TSA

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Breastmilk and the TSA

When my youngest was still breastfeeding, I took a trip for work that involved riding in jump seats of commercial airplanes. I had flown with my pump before, which was always interesting, but this was a new challenge: Was I allowed to take my pump (and expressed milk on the way home) in the cockpit with me? The answer turned out to be the same as for any other part of a plane: yes.

Here’s the lowdown on breast pumps, breast milk, and the TSA. Keep in mind these tips only apply if you’re flying domestic; if your plans involve international travel, check out this helpful article.

First, these rules are the same whether your baby is with you or not–you don’t need to have your child with you to take a pump or expressed milk onboard. The TSA allows medically necessary liquids (this includes breast milk, formula, and juice for babies) in excess of 3.4 ounces through security, and it does not have to be in a quart sized ziploc bag. You are allowed to take a freezer pack as well to keep them cool.

However, if you have liquids that fit this category, you will need to let the agent know when you first start the screening process. You will send your belongings through the regular x-ray conveyor belt, and then after you have gathered your gear an agent will escort you to a separate area. They may ask to open your liquids, and then they will do an explosives check which is simple and fairly quick (they run a small square of cloth over the bottles and process the cloth for explosive material).  Plan to be at the airport a little earlier for this.

Keep in mind that you are still subject to the airline rules of one carry-on and one personal item per ticketed passenger, even if you are toting a pump or milk.

If you have your pump with you, you are not obligated to declare it to the screener, but you may want to give them a heads-up. I alarmed a young screener one time with mine. I think he saw an electrical box and tubing on the x-ray screen and assumed I had dastardly plans. He was even more alarmed I think once he found out it was a breast pump and not a bomb.

Finally, if you need to pump en route, some airports now have nursing lounges. I have personally found these to be more common overseas than stateside, but hopefully more and more airports will be on board soon (pun intended).

Meaghan Howard is a mom to two little boys, ages 3 and 6. She’s currently enjoying the expat life in Japan.

Pumping at Work

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

Pumping at workHeaded back to work after having a baby? Considering it? A big concern for working new mothers is how to continue to breastfeed. If you aren’t lucky enough to have a nanny that can bring your child to work for you to nurse her (wouldn’t that be nice?), you will need to pump.

When you’re selecting a pump that’s going to get some heavy use (if you’re working and still breastfeeding, it will indeed get used), look for a dual electric pump. Many insurance companies and even some Medicaid/WIC programs cover the cost of a pump; check with yours before purchasing.

You need to keep your pumped milk cold; many pumps come with a cooler bag and freezer insert in case you don’t have access to a refrigerator. You also need access to a sink to be able to wash the parts after pumping (I found the microwavable sterilizing bags to be invaluable at work).

Having access to a sink, fridge, and microwave is just the tip of the iceberg. You need a private place to pump, and time to do it. Just like nursing, pumping frequently helps you keep your supply up and provide enough for your baby. If your company doesn’t have a dedicated nursing room, you may have to be creative in finding a place that will work. After my first child, I pumped in the women’s locker room. Don’t hesitate to ask for better conditions, either; your employer may not be required to facilitate nursing breaks and a workable location, but you may be surprised at how amenable they can be. By the time I had my second child, my employer had dedicated a small room for pumping moms.

Also just like if you were nursing, take care of yourself to help keep your supply up. You may find you don’t pump as much milk as you thought you would. Make sure you’re still drinking lots of water, and if you find your supply dipping, check out La Leche League’s trouble-shooting guide.

Pumping at work can be a bit of a hassle, but for me it was worth it. I loved being able to still provide breastmilk for my babies when I had to be away from them.

Meaghan Howard is a mom to two little boys, ages 3 and 6. She’s currently enjoying the expat life in Japan.