The End of WBW 2011

I realize I didn't post Friday, but it was an absolutely hectic day. I was off from work and had to run a bunch of errands including trying to get a sari blouse altered before the next few weeks. Because I'm still breast feeding, it wouldn't make it across my chest. I also was able to get together with my good friends The Granola Mommies and their sons. We met for a coffee date at a local coffee shop and nursed in public. There was an older man in a purple shirt who STARED. He never said anything, but he seemed shocked that women were doing such a thing in public! No one else in the place seemed to even notice what we were doing.

D, E, and I attended the Big Latch On Saturday morning. We almost didn't make it. I forgot to set an alarm and we didn't wake up until 9 and the mall was about 40 minutes away. Yikes. Luckily, D is a great driver and we had some speedy "buddies" along with us on the highway. There were 27 moms at our location who were latched at 10:30. The results were just posted:
On Saturday 6th August at 10:30am in multiple locations and time zones across the globe, 4123* women and their children came together and breastfed simultaneously across 294* locations as part of the Big Latch On. (*provisional total)

One of the best parts of attending the Big Latch On (or any breast feeding event) is meeting other nursing moms and seeing friends you don't see too often. I think we lingered for an hour after the event was over chit chatting with old friends and meeting new ones.

Boobie Snack at the Big Latch On

Did you go to a Big Latch On event?? Share your experience in the comments!

A Nursing Celebration

E and I have worked really hard to get to this point in our nursing relationship (my nursing story in case you need a refresher). We are almost eight months in, I love nursing him and try to feed him as much as I can in the evenings and on weekends. He's started putting his hands in my mouth and I nibble on his fingers. He pulls off, giggles, latches back on, and does it again. It's a part of our nursing ritual.

When my friend Mae of Mae Burke Photography asked if she could take nursing photos of E and I for her portfolio, I was beyond excited. She was going to start offering nursing portraits. Nursing portraits!! What an incredible way to celebrate a successful relationship! We made plans to meet at a Hindu temple and I was to wear a sari. Confession: I wore the sari with the help of a You Tube video. Thank goodness for You Tube.

We met up on a HOT and humid Texas morning. Mae was told that the temple would be closed, but there were people coming and going. I'm not entirely sure that the temple staff understood what kind of photos we would be shooting. I got E latched on and Mae started snapping away. I didn't even notice that she was there. Twenty minutes and a few backgrounds later, we were done. Here's the result:

This one is my favorite picture. Mae's caption is "I TRIPLE checked...that's his gorgeous mama in his eye :]"

Mamas: if you have the opportunity to get nursing photos taken, DO IT! It's a beautiful way to capture a special time in your life and posting them will help normalize nursing. They will be great to look back on when your nursling is all grown up. I plan on showing these to any girls E brings home along with the naked in the bath pics. Have you ever had or would you ever have nursing photos taken of you?

All images copyright Mae Burke Photography

These Are a Few of My Favorite (Nursing) Things

I wanted to say thanks for the support I've received for my last two posts. I've gotten a few texts/Facebook messages/comments from visitors saying that they have enjoyed reading them. I'm glad because I really enjoyed writing them! I thought I'd lighten the mood a bit by posting about a few of my favorite nursing related things.

I did not receive any payment or promotional items from the brands discussed below. All were bought with my hard earned money.

    Helpful Resources
  • is the holy grail of breast feeding. You can find information on just about anything breast feeding related. I have this website bookmarked on my phone in case I'm at work and need to refer to something.
  • Stanford University's School of Medicine has a great page on breastfeeding. They have an especially helpful video on hand expression. I used with the day my milk came in to relieve some of the pressure and pain I was feeling. In my opinion, it's very important for a woman to know how to hand express milk if they don't have access to an electrical or manual pump.
  • This list would be incomplete without La Leche League USA. I am just assuming you are in the US (how Americentric of me). If you're not, here's the website for La Leche League International. LLL meetings are very informational and their leaders are very knowledgeable.

    Pumping and Nursing Apparel and Accessories
  • I live in nursing tanks when I'm at home. I wear Gilligan & O'Malley's full sling nursing tank tops, which are available at Target. They are unbelievably comfortable and provide great support, so much so that I can (and have) worn them out of the house. I plan on wearing these even after E is done nursing. They're about $17 each, so they won't break the bank like other nursing tanks.
  • I own a few nursing tops from Motherhood Maternity and The Gap, but I'm not really a fan of them. I am a modest nurser: I prefer to keep as much of myself covered as possible while nursing E out in public. I don't use a coverup since he doesn't tolerate them, but I stay quite covered. I usually layer by wearing an Undecover Mamas under a regular shirt or tank top. I think these are AWESOME and prefer these over stretchy camisoles. Sometimes the camis don't stretch as much as they should or they get in the way. I was able to get some at less than full price on Zulily, which is a flash sale website. Need an invite? Click here.
  • Nursing bras are typically functional, not fun. They're also expensive. I wrote a post back in May about some sexy(!) moderately priced(!!) nursing bras(!!!!) that you should check out.
  • I use a hands free bra when I pump at work and my hands free bra of choice is a Pump Ease. Not only are they very handy (pun intended), but very cute too! Studies have shown that women are more likely to pump if they have a cute hands free bra. Okay, I made that up. It helps me to look down and see something cute and functional, as opposed to something purely utilitarian. I "Liked" their Facebook page and scored a coupon code for buy one get one free.

There you have it, a few of my favorite (nursing) things. Are there any nursing things that you really enjoy using?

Working and Breastfeeding

I work full time outside of the house and I have a nursing infant. My pump is my best friend. We have a love/hate relationship. I hate being pumped (could it make me feel more bovine??). I hate washing and sanitizing pump parts every night even more than pumping. That being said, I love that it allows me to nourish my baby even though I'm not with him.

Knowing that he is getting exactly what he needs from me nutritionally helps every time I'm in my pumping room (it's a glorified walk-in closet with a folding table and chair) at work. Here are a few tips that helped me when I started back at work and continue to help me today.

  • Alert your employer about your intentions before you go on maternity leave.
  • It's an awkward conversation worth having. I let my superiors and HR know that I planned to pump upon my return. I came back to having a private room to pump in and was able to use it the day I returned. I even have my own key so I can come and go as needed.

  • Know the law.
  • Despite your views on Obama's health care reform, it has been a benefit for nursing mamas returning to work. There is now a law saying that most employers must provide you with a private place to pump that cannot be a bathroom. For more information, click here. As I understand it, this law doesn't apply to teachers. I don't get that part at all. But I could be wrong. Feel free to correct me in the comments.
    [Edit] I got clarification tonight on the pumping law for employers. It applies to non-exempt employees only. Typically non-exempt employees are paid hourly and exempt employees are salaried. Talk to your HR department for more info.

  • Practice, practice, practice!
  • Make sure you're familiar with your pump before it's show time. You may even want to do a trial run and pump when you would pump at work. This really helped a friend of mine who is a teacher. Her body got used to pumping at a similar time each day. It also helps build up a supply of milk to fall back on if needed. I think that this will help you avoid any potential issues on your first days back. That being said...

  • Prepare for the unexpected.
  • I always make sure I have extra membranes and breastmilk storage bags (for when the bottle runneth over). I carry fenugreek supplements in my purse and keep Mothers Milk herbal tea in my desk for days that my supply feels low.
    It's also handy to know of a local place that carries pump parts in an absolute pinch. I once forgot my power cord at home (yes, really!) but luckily a friend with the same pump lived close by and I was able to borrow hers for the day. I thanked her profusely in behalf of my child and full breasts.

  • Have the proper equipment.
  • I use a hands free pumping bra and love hands free pumping. This also allows me to look at photos and videos of E on my phone. It helps me relax and I swear that I let down more frequently because of it. Make sure to have a photo of your nursling. It's something cute to look at while you pump.

  • People are nosy.
  • Make sure you have a sign on the door that alerts people to the fact that you're pumping and not to enter. It may seem like a no brainer, but I got walked in on twice during my first few weeks back. Luckily, I was setting up or cleaning up both times so I wasn't exposed. I now put a hot pink sticky note on the door that says "Room In Use" and haven't had any incidents since.
    Be prepared for questions. If someone sees me going into or out of my pumping room, I often get asked, "What do you do in there?" Frankly, it's none of their business and I don't want to have to explain myself. I usually respond with, "You don't want to know." I tell them what I do only if pressed. Usually the asker is male and embarrassed after I explain that I am still nursing my son and need to pump while at work.

  • Know that you're not alone.
  • I'm the only one at my office that uses the pumping room. I'm also the first one in a few years to do it. There are lots of blogs and online support groups if you don't know anyone else who is a pumping mom. If you need more motivation or inspiration, check out this article on a military mom's pumping story. She is one bad ass mother! I found this article on balancing work and baby helpful too.

If you are a full time pumping mom, you are a ROCK STAR in my eyes! Do you have any tips that have helped you pump?

My Breastfeeding Story

Since this year's World Breastfeeding Week theme is about sharing your experience, I thought I'd kick off the week by posting my story nursing E. To say it was difficult would be an understatement. I had been warned that breastfeeding was hard, but I didn't think it would be this hard.

E was born 3.5 weeks early at a hospital. I had an amazing labor and delivery experience (yes, I just called my labor experience amazing) and was able to bring E into this world naturally without any medical intervention. It was the best possible start for our nursing relationship. Somewhere after that things went awry.

Being naturally well endowed in the boob area, there was some initial difficulty in getting E to latch correctly. With the help of my fantastic doula Jamie , I was able to establish a good latch and E drank and fell asleep. A few hours later we moved to a postpartum room and I thought I was feeding E correctly. He had not had his first wet or soiled diaper, but the nurses assured me that this was not unusual. We woke every few hours to feed. E would feed and fall asleep.

A hospital lactation consultant came to the room the following morning and took a look at his chart. She then told me, "If you don't supplement your baby with formula he will not survive." She didn't explain what was going on at all. I told her I didn't want that and I would continue to wake him every few hours and feed him. She left the room very abruptly. She never asked to see him feed or offered help with my latch - just told me I was going to kill my baby. As a first time mom, I was petrified. My milk hadn't come in yet and I did not want to cause nipple confusion by introducing a bottle of formula.

I kept doing what I thought was best, which was putting him to the breast. We were discharged from the hospital the next day and brought him home. A few days later we were back at the hospital for a bilirubin test. Because he was a late term preemie, we had to get retested even though his levels were normal. The test was followed by a weighed feeding, which I did not know about. E had lost almost 10% of his weight in the few days since his birth! The LC gave me a nipple shield and also showed me how to feed him expressed breastmilk with a cup. I was beside myself at the fact that my child was hungry and had lost so much weight.

We called Jamie on the way home and she came over later that day. She brought with her a general plan of action and some of her own expressed milk. In the meanwhile, my milk had come in and I was engorged and sore. My husband had rented a hospital grade pump for me and had just brought it home.

The three of us (with the help of some of Jamie's doula and lactation savvy friends) came up with a plan. I would nurse E every 1 to 2 hours, waking him up if necessary, and then I would pump milk using the rented pump. Meanwhile, my mom (who had arrived from out of state) or my husband would syringe feed E with either my or Jamie's expressed milk. We would do this after every feed. In case you have never been around a newborn or have forgotten their schedule, they eat every 2 hours. Their stomach is the size of a marble and empties frequently.

Thus began our routine for the longest few weeks of my life. I would nurse E, then pump while he received expressed breast milk by syringe. We did this after every feeding. Every two hours. All day and night. I wanted to give up. I was sleep deprived, hormonal, and felt betrayed by my body. At least twice I told my husband I wasn't doing it anymore and to go get formula from the store.

One breakdown was worse than the other. It happened two days before Christmas. D called every local lactation consultant he could get a hold of. Some weren't available, some never called him back. Finally one was available. She came to our house and she helped me so much more than the others I had seen. She showed me the side lying position which helped with the overnight feedings - this was a game changer for me! She showed me different holds and what would work for me and how to do them with my Boppy. She was an angel. What helped the most was her showing me how to nurse in my home with my things. This wasn't an office visit, this was my couch, my bed, my stuff.

Things got a little easier after that. E was putting on weight like a champ, about a pound in 10 days at one point. Right around his one month birthday, we cut down the amount of supplements from after every feed to 3 times a day. At about 5 weeks we were able to stop supplementing all together. He received only breastmilk (mine or Jamie's) this entire time.

It was as if someone flipped a light switch at 6 weeks. It just got incredibly easier. I felt comfortable enough to nurse E in public with a coverup. We hit another rough patch when I came down with a case of thrush. E seemed fine, but I was in a world of pain when we would nurse. We made our way through that with the help of gentian violet.

E is now almost 8 months old and loves solid food. He still drinks milk, but rarely from a bottle as he prefers to nurse. It saddens me to think that we may be in the twilight of our nursing relationship. I worked so very hard to get here that I don't want it to end. I also miss the time we have together since I work full time outside the home. I don't mind all the feedings, even the middle of the night ones (thanks to the side lying position). it gives a chance to love on my baby boy.

So there you have it. That's what we went through to get to where we are today. I could not have done it without the support of my doula Jamie, my mother, and my incredible husband who knew not to stop when I said when. Looking back, a lot could have been done differently. It was a learning experience. All I can take away from everything was what to do differently for number two. I still feel physically ill when I think back to how terrible the first few days of E's life were and I think I always will. Writing all this down and sharing it in such a public way has been extremely cathartic.

This entire experience has made me become a "lactivist". I am a huge proponent of breastfeeding support for moms, nursing in public, and extended breastfeeding. I'm pretty sure I've been unfriended by a few people on Facebook for all the pro-breastfeeding stuff I post. That being said, I still feel that breastfeeding is a choice that every woman must make for herself. A woman is not a terrible mother if she is unable to or chooses not to breastfeed her child. I may not agree with her decision, but I do not know her situation or reasoning. Who am I to judge and chastise? 

Pardon any random capitalization or autocorrects, I wrote this on my phone while pumping. What's your breastfeeding story? Did it come to you naturally (lucky!!) or was it a challenge?

The Big Latch On

Hey nursing mama, what are you doing next Saturday morning?? As an end to World Breastfeeding Week (which starts Monday, 8/1!), La Leche League USA will attempt to break the world record for number mothers nursing simultaneously. The Big Latch On will be taking place all across the US at set locations. Check out LLL USA's website for the Big Latch On to find a place near you. If there isn't a designated location in your neck of the woods, consider setting one up! All the rules and required forms are available online.

It's a great way to meet other nursing moms and cross something off your bucket list. Imagine the bragging rights! "What did I do this weekend? Broke a world record, no big deal." Will you be there next Saturday? Baby E and I will be there. I'll be the one wearing the red soled shoes while nursing my baby.