My Breastfeeding Essentials for a Baby Registry

This weekend we visited a big box baby store in search of a baby gate. Our curious one year old needs to be corralled while we baby proof our new house. I peeped into the breastfeeding aisle to see what this particular store carried and was taken aback at all of the items in front of me. It has been about 5 years since I had to create a new baby registry that included so many products.

After seeing a few pregnant mamas looking overwhelmed at the options, I thought I'd put together a list of what I consider breastfeeding essentials for a baby registry. Please note that the list does not call out any specific brand names, only item categories.


  1. A pump? A very common misconception is that all breastfeeding mothers need breast pumps. If you won't be away from your baby for extended periods of time, you may want to consider not getting a pump at all. Go down to number 4 on this list.

    If you'll be heading back to work, contact your insurance company or local WIC office if you have Medicaid. Since most US insurance plans are now required to provide moms with a new breast pump or cover the cost of pump rental, you may want to pass on adding a double electric pump to your registry. Instead, consider adding a manual pump to use as back up.

  2. Pump parts and storage bags. If you'll be receiving a pump from insurance, consider adding spare parts to your list. If you're going to be pumping on a regular basis (like at work), you can expect membranes and valves to wear out. In fact, many pump manufacturers recommend replacing parts every few months. Save yourself some stress and some money by adding these to your registry. Don't forget breastmilk storage bags!
  3. Bottles and their accessories. If you plan on using bottles, realize that your baby may not like the particular brand you get. Some babies are very selective when it comes to bottles. A sterilizer, drying rack, and bottle brush will make it very easy for your partner to clean the bottles ;-)

  4. Nursing pads, soothing pads, and balms. I've found reusable nursing pads to be much softer than disposables. I'd recommend adding several sets to your registry, as they can get misplaced. Soothing balms helped me immensely during the first several weeks of breastfeeding. I also recommend adding heating and cooling soothing pads. They feel wonderful when your breasts are engorged.

  5. The cover. The age old (breastfeeding in public) question: to cover or not to cover? The only answer to that is to do what you're comfortable with. I started breastfeeding in public using a cover. Juggling a hungry and floppy newborn and my gigantic breast were difficult enough without worrying about accidentally flashing the place. Once baby was older and we had our latch down, I was able to ditch the cover and nurse by layering my shirts. I used a nursing cover like a kid uses training wheels on a bike. Anyway, if you'd feel more comfortable with a cover (whether it's just for the first few months or forever), add it to your registry.

  6. Breastfeeding pillow and stool. A nursing pillow was key for me during the early months of breastfeeding. It helped me bring baby to breast and the nursing stool helped make sure I wasn't leaning forward in an uncomfortable way.

  7. Breastfeeding underthings. I lived in camisoles for the first several weeks. They provided support, coverage, and I would throw a t-shirt on top of them when going out. I had easy breast access and they were very comfortable.
    Consider adding a sleep bra to your registry rather than a traditional nursing bra. A nursing mother's bra size can fluctuate quite a bit initially. Sleep bras are typically sized S, M, L, XL, and are very stretchy.
    If you plan on returning to work, add a hands free pumping bra. Many moms cut small holes into an inexpensive sports bra, but who wants to disrobe from the waist up when you're pumping at work?

Did I miss anything? Let me know what you'd add to this list in the comments!


Guest Post: TPC

I’m a busy mom. I’m a stylist, have 4 boys, husband, and a damn dog.

I also breastfeed. My youngest is almost 3 months old and my 2 year old just weaned. So, if you add it up, I have been nursing and having someone all up in my business for the past 30 months. I’m a bit of a hippie, and believe that a baby will wean his/herself when they’re ready. In the mean time I pump when I can’t be home to nurse.

If you know me, you see me carrying around my “sexy” Louie Vuitton bag with my pump stowed away, ever so neatly. Hey, a girl's gotta be stylin', even if it's her pump bag.

I was at work the other day, pumping as usual. I was doing ml routine….TPC. You know how Jersey Shore has GTL [Gym-Tan-Laundry]? Well, I have Text-Pin-Creep.
What’s this, you ask?

T=Text
I catch up on my texting. These days, this is how my clients communicate with me. Sometimes it’s a pain, but it works out well when my pump is laying down some sick beats. They don’t have to hear it and visualize my nipples being sucked into the horns and looking like caterpillars.

P=Pinterest
After I text everyone, I get my pinterest on. Oh Pinterest, how I love thee!!!! If I had all the time in the world, I would spend it doing all of the cool-ASS crafts and baking, all of the thigh thrashing meals that I pin.

C=Creeping
Lastly, once my texting and pinning is complete, I do a little Facebook creeping. I scroll through and even read all of the lame-ass posts. “I just cleaned my kitchen!” – really? You want a friggin' gold star? I especially despise the song lyrics. Seriously people?

While I was getting my TPC on, I noticed a warm sensation on my lap. My bottles were overflowing!!!! I don’t know about you, buy I cry over spilt milk. I scrambled to turn off my pump and salvage as much as I could while I sobbed and sobbed. It spilt on my lap, the chair I was sitting in, and on the floor. I was very tempted to wipe the puddle off the floor and squeeze it back into the bottle. I quickly came to my senses, remembered I was, in fact, in a salon and decided that wasn’t a great idea.


I managed to clean up my mess, but I had a lovely wet spot on my jeans. I got to spend the rest of the day explaining to my clients what it was and why it was there. I’ll be more careful next time I TPC while pumping!


This is a guest post from Kacie: busy stylist, mom to 4 boys, and a breastfeeding bad ass. You can read about the birth of her "Birdy" at Texas Boy Mom or have her do your hair if you live in the Burleson, TX area

Weaned

Well, I think we're done nursing. I know I've said this before, but I really mean it this time. What makes it different? Ethan hasn't nursed in almost a week. The last time he nursed was last Wednesday, 9/19/12, just before bed. Since then, he asks for milk and but doesn't nurse, just snuggles up against my breast. Sometimes he won't even do that, he'll just lay his head on my stomach and fall asleep. Guess he loves the skin-to-skin. He's done the same thing almost every night since then.


One of my favorite pics of us ever, E is almost 6 months old

It's been a long time coming, he's been slowly cutting down the sessions. After I stopped pumping at work back in March, he would jump on me when I walked in the door from work. I didn't mind, I was pretty full by the time I got home. That stopped sometime in July; he'd still want to nurse after I got home, but it he didn't want it as urgently as before. At some point between July and September, he cut out the post work nurse and would nurse to sleep. Now he is all done.


Nursing E at almost 18 months old

I'm really sad about this. We've had an amazing run, 21 months and 9 days. I never thought that we'd nurse this long. I never thought that I'd want to nurse this long. But here we are, just a few months shy of the 2 year mark. I'm especially proud of how long we nursed because I work full time outside of the home. I was hoping to make it to that point, since we were so close. I am also sad that I didn't realize it was his last time. I wouldn't have been so quick to offer him a paci or play around on my phone while he nursed.

To me, it's been about much more than just breastfeeding and nourishing my child. Our adventure together has given me a purpose and direction in life. For years I've felt directionless. Two years ago, I still didn't know what I wanted to be when I "grew up". Then E was born and we had our rough start. As our nursing relationship developed, I realized that I wanted to offer moms non-judgmental support through their rough times. It really lit a fire within me and I am so excited that I am on the path to making a career out of something I'm passionate about.

So what do I do now? Do I keep offering? What if he asks for it? Should I let him? Mamas who've been through this, I need your experiences please. Sorry this post is kind of all over the place. I've been feeling kind of all over the place with this.

Coming Full Circle: My Milksharing Experience

My story is part of the Blog carnival organised by World Milksharing Week, to celebrate World Milksharing Week 2013. Click here to read more stories about milksharing. If you’d like to participate too, please visit this page.

Monday was the first day of World Milksharing Week. This year's theme is Sharing Milk, Nurturing Community. The goal of World Milksharing Week is "Life and Love in Every Drop." In the event that a mother isn't able to produce enough milk for her baby, I believe that human donor milk should be the next option rather than a breastmilk substitute like formula.

My milk sharing experience began as a recipient. My son was 4 days old and had lost nearly a pound since birth. My doula was nursing her 9 month old and gave us some of her milk to help supplement while my milk volume increased. She was generous enough to share her milk with us for the first 4-5 weeks of his life as we wanted make sure he was gaining weight adequately. I remember crying while thanking her for her gift. While we could've used artificial baby milk to supplement, my son was a late term preemie (36w4d) and it was of utmost importance that he receive the benefits of breast milk, even if it wasn't MY breast milk. Our rough start story is here, if you're interested in reading it.

I returned to work at 12 weeks and pumped 3 times day to provide for my son. Since I had started pumping to increase my milk supply since E was 4 days old, I had quite a freezer stash built up already. I was a milk hoarder, I didn't want to give it up because of my past supply issues. Eventually, our freezer was full of breast milk and there was no room for any food. I wanted to donate to another mother and baby in need. I had been taking fenugreek supplements for months to help my supply, and knew this disqualified me from donating to my local milk bank.

My doula put me in touch with a mom of a newborn who had given birth by emergency c-section. She was having issues with her milk volume increasing. Her baby was hungry and not reacting well to formula. She was almost out of donor milk. I contacted her and we set up a time for her to come by and pick up the milk. I was very upfront with her about consuming caffeine, dairy, soy, fenugreek, and the occasional bit of alcohol while breastfeeding and pumping. She didn't mind and took all the milk I had stashed away over the months: a whopping 191 ounces. She had almost a gallon and a half of human breast milk for her baby! I received a very sweet and unexpected thank you note in the mail from her a few days later.


This is what 191.5 ounces of frozen breastmilk looks like

Since that initial donation, I have donated another 200-300 ounces in my almost 22 months of breastfeeding. Another large stash went to a friend's sister who was unable to produce milk for her son, and some to the same friend's sister-in-law who needed to occasionally supplement her twin girls. I have also donated to a local birth center that wanted to have some on hand for moms and babies in need.

I vividly remember my doula's reaction to my tearful thank you. It didn't seem like it was a big deal to her; she was simply giving me something she had a surplus of. I noticed myself having the same "it's no big deal" attitude when getting thanked by the recipients.I may have seemed like a life saver to them, but I was glad to have the freezer space back for ice cream. I had come full circle.

Breastfeeding and the Working Mom

This week's Breastfeeding Blog Hop topic is "Do you know the laws that protect you as a breastfeeding mother?”

If you're a new mom going back to work, there are now laws in place to protect you. Under President Obama's Affordable Healthcare Act, a company with more than 50 people is required to provide non-exempt (hourly) moms a private place to pump that's not a bathroom. She's also allowed to take as many unpaid breaks as needed to pump during baby's first year of life. More information is available on the Department of Labor's website.

Notice that the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law only applies to non-exempt employees. This covers many women, but not all. People who receive a salary, like teachers, are not covered by this law. While most teachers I know are given the time needed to pump, there are others that resort to pumping in their car or bathrooms. Imagine making a sandwich in the bathroom, with people peeing and pooping next to you. Pretty damn gross.

Related: The ACA also covers breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling!

The Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2011 was introduced in both houses of Congress last year. Passing this act would mean federal protection would extend to those employees that are exempt, including teachers. Please write your local representatives and urge them to sign it. The US Breastfeeding Committee has made it really easy. Enter your zip code and automatically email your representatives. I'm not even going to talk about the lack of paid maternity leave. It kinda speaks for itself...

It's really important to ensure that breastfeeding moms are supported at work. Earlier this year, a Texas mom was fired after asking for a room to pump milk. The US also ranks last in breastfeeding support, according to Save the Children's State of the World’s Mothers Report 2012, released earlier this year.

While there have been measures taken to help support a breastfeeding moms in the workplace, there is still a long way to go! If you're interested in speaking to your employer about setting up a nursing room or supporting breastfeeding moms, start by reading The Business Case for Breastfeeding. It's a program "designed to educate employers about the value of supporting breastfeeding employees in the workplace."

Has your employer been supportive of you pumping at work?

Interested in more of my posts about work and breastfeeding? Click here.


What I Wish I Knew...

This week's Breastfeeding Blog Hop topic is What you wish you would have known in the early weeks

E and I didn't have the greatest start when it came to breastfeeding. In fact, it pretty much sucked. His birth weight dropped because of inefficient sucking. I was pumping after every feed to build my supply and supplement. Until things caught up, we were syringe feeding after every feed with donor milk. On top of all this, I was dealing with a lack of sleep, crazy hormones, and a baby that wanted to come 3.5 weeks early.

Thankfully, we persevered. I had wonderful support and we have moved forward as if we didn't have a rough start at all. Looking back, I have some regrets and wish I had known or done some things differently.

Hunger cues and signs of milk transfer I know this was taught in our Bradley birth class, but I really wish I had paid attention. Only now do I realize just how important those things are. I didn't realize that crying is a disorganized hunger cue and often a sign of frustration. Kellymom has a great list of hunger cues in order of early to late.

Hormones, hormones, hormones I wish I knew just how much those hormones would affect me during those first few weeks. It was like PMS on steroids. I was a mess about the breastfeeding issues and the hormones made it worse. Throw in the lack of sleep, and you've got a great recipe for disaster. If you're reading this and just had a baby, please know that it will get better. You will no longer cry at car commercials or sweat through your sheets (we had to buy waterproofing for me). Same goes for breastfeeding. It gets easier

Take it all in Realize that everything stops for this little being in your lap. Don't bother with cleaning the house and writing thank you cards. That can wait. Spend every waking moment taking it all in. And spend every sleeping moment dreaming of the next waking moment. The milk drunk faces, the dribbles of milk from their mouths, the gurgles... it goes by really fast. Breastfeeding can be tough at first and it SUCKS sometimes, but it is just a flash in time.

What do you wish you had known in the early weeks of breastfeeding?

Eighteen Months

Dear Ethan,

18 months ago you came into the world and turned our lives upside down. You are growing stronger and smarter every day. I love watching you learn how to do things, whether it's crawl, walk, dance, a new word, or a new sign. At this rate you will be smarter than me by age 2!


Minutes old. Photo by Keri Duckett Photography

You've shown me just how selfless I can be. Things that once seemed important to me don't even register on my radar. I'm humbled by how much I've grown since you were born. I'm blown away by the love I felt for you since you took your first breath and it brings me to tears to know my parents felt the same about me at that same moment in their lives.

Thank you for giving me the easy labor you did. You earned me the name Super Birther. Even though you were 3.5 weeks early, I have been waiting for you my whole life. Thank you for not coming out while I was transitioning on the toilet. I'm glad you didn't want to be a toilet baby.

Please don't hate me later in life because I have to go to work every day. Know that I never stop thinking about you and wish I could stay home and play with you all day long. Daddy and I are doing the best we can to give you a great life.

I know that we didn't have the smooth breastfeeding start I imagined us to have. I'm sorry you were hungry and I didn't know any better. I think back to those moments and feel physically ill that I did that to you. I don't think those feelings will ever go away. But our breastfeeding experience really ignited a fire in me. I realized just how much support a new mom needs and I want to be that support for every nursing mother I need. You've given me something to strive for after I thought the drive was gone for good. It will mean that I will be away from you sometimes, but I'm doing it because you showed me how important it was to me.

Thank you for still nursing and not biting me with all your teeth. My favorite part of the day is coming home to you, you saying, “Hi Mama!” and then wanting to nurse. I wish you would sign milk instead of sticking your hand down my shirt. Oh well, I can get over it. I'm happy to keep nursing until you decide you don't want it anymore. I never thought I'd be that mom, but here we are.

Know that I love you regardless of who you marry, what you do with your life, and where you end up. I am your mama and I will be your biggest advocate and champion until my last breath. The last 18 months have been incredible. I don't have any words to describe them. Maybe you'll know if you decide to become a dad. I can't wait to see what the future holds for us.

All my love always,
Mama

Breastfeeding in the News

This week's Breastfeeding Blog Hop topic is Breastfeeding in the News

For better or for worse, breastfeeding has become a topic of conversation for many people. From the infamous Time magazine cover to the ladies of The View spreading false information about breastfeeding, it seems to be on everyone's lips. Everyone has an opinion on it and they're often polarizing. I'm not going to voice my opinion on the Time cover because it has been said a million times by every other mom out there.


Just a few days ago, Save the Children released its State of the World’s Mothers Report for 2012. The United States came in last for breastfeeding support. It was posted several times on Facebook and was usually followed with the question "Surprised?". Sadly, almost all the answers I read said no, nursing moms were not surprised at this ranking.

To me it was sad, but not surprising. We live in a country that prides itself on being the best in everything, yet we have the lowest paid maternity leave out (as in NONE) of all industrialized nations, breastfeeding moms are paid less over time, and only 141 out of 5754 registered hospitals in the US have WHO certified as Baby Friendly. The Break Time for Nursing Mothers law doesn't apply to half of working moms. Lets not forget that we chastise mothers for nursing in public and extended breastfeeding has been likened to a form of child abuse. No wonder we are last on the list. We have a lot to work on, America!

Here's a good place to start: read about the Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2011. It expands the current Break Time for Nursing Mothers law to include all nursing moms. The current laws only protect non-exempt or hourly employees. Passing the BF Promotion Act would entitle salaried nursing moms (teachers, admins, engineers, etc) to the same protected break time and ensure that they would not get fired or be discriminated against for breastfeeding. Because that already happened earlier this year.

This started off as a post, but quickly turned into a rant. As a breastfeeding mom, I'm really sick of the stereotypes and false information. I want to set people straight by educating them and supporting existing moms. I don't want my future daughter to have to deal with some of the issues breastfeeding moms are dealing with today. Yes I realize how trite that sounds, but if you know me even just a little bit, you will know that is really how I feel. I'm trying to "be the change I want to see in the world."

Businesses in Tarrant County That Support Breastfeeding

Are you a working pumping mom in Tarrant County, Texas? Do you know someone who is? Please help out the Texas Breastfeeding Coalition - they are trying to find businesses in our communities that support breastfeeding in the workplace.

The ultimate goal of this project is to develop an online searchable resource to showcase creative solutions for supporting employees who are nursing their babies, with a special emphasis on employers of non-salaried employees and challenging work environments. The resource will be available in Fall 2012.

If you know of a business (and it could be your place of employment), contact me with the following info:
1) Name of the Business
2) Contact name
3) Phone number and/or email address.

Coalition members will then follow up and perform a telephone screening and a site visit to obtain photos.

They are looking for success stories from businesses of all industry types (i.e., manufacturing, retail, education, construction, religious, healthcare, etc).

Please email naya (at) lactivistinlouboutins (dot) com if you know of a business and would like to help!

I Dumped the Pump

This week's Breastfeeding Blog Hop topic is
Loving Your Child From Afar (Working and Breastfeeding).
I wrote this post almost a year ago, the day I decided to stop pumping at work.

Today marked the end of something really important to me: I turned in the key to my pump room at work. I haven't pumped at work in about 10 days. E is still nursing, but refuses to take a bottle or sipper of my milk when I'm not home. He drinks from the tap exclusively. I haven't had any engorgement issues (thank goodness), but I feel full by the time I get home. Coincidentally, tomorrow will be the one year anniversary of me returning to work after my maternity leave.


This was the "key" to my breastfeeding success. Har har har.

    I wouldn't have made it this far without some help. I'd like to thank:
  • My loving husband for his support and for washing and sanitizing the parts for over a year
  • My Medela Pump in Style Advanced for encouraging me (or as my friend Kacie calls it, "laying down a dope beat") by saying "Make Milk! Make Milk!" while I pumped and for not letting me down, even when it made a weird knocking noise for a week.
  • My insurance company for reimbursing me 75% of the cost of the pump.
  • PumpEase for making an awesome product I could count on day after day that allowed me to both compress my breasts and play on my iPhone while pumping.
  • The following iPhone apps for keeping me entertained: Facebook, Twitter, Words With Friends, and Kindle.
  • My friend Alanna for lending me her power cord when I forgot mine at home. Yes, this did happen once.
  • President Obama and government officials for including Break Time for Pumping Mothers in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
  • My supportive employer.
  • Fenugreek and Mothers Milk tea for helping me increase my supply when it felt low.

In a way, I'm glad I'm done pumping. I hated the feeling of being milked, but really liked the sensation of the let down. Is that weird? I hated washing and sanitizing those parts. I hated taking the time out of my day to pump, usually because it threw off my whole work rhythm.

However, I loved that I provided E with my milk when I wasn't with him. It's very bittersweet. I have a small stash left in my freezer that will get donated, along with the opened pack of breastmilk storage bags.


The last 32 ounces

I'm trying not to think of what this means. It's inevitable, at some point E will not want to nurse anymore. I'll leave it up to him to decide when that will be. Saturday will be 15 months of nursing, with almost 12 of those happening while I worked. That is something I'm very proud of. Until he decides he's done, I'll enjoy the time we have together.


[edited 3/1/13]: E and I continued to breastfeed for an additional 6 months, until he was just over 21 months old. For more posts related to working and breastfeeding, click here.

Leaving My Nursling

This week's Breastfeeding Blog Hop topic is First Time Jitters: Leaving your Baby in the Care of Someone Else.

The first time I left E was right before New Years. D had bought me the amazing Christmas gift of a massage, which was much appreciated. E was left in the care of D and my mother. I had no doubt that he would be fine for the 60ish minutes I would be gone. I think I even relaxed a little bit.

Going back to work was another story. I remember that morning vividly, because I cried a lot. My maternity leave had ended and I was back to work on a Monday (ladies, if you can start work in the middle of the week, do it. Those first 5 days back were brutal). We were lucky enough to have E stay with a friend of mine, who was a SAHM with a two year old daughter. She and her husband had been thinking of expanding their family and watching E would be a perfect way to remind themselves of life with a baby. They lived a few minutes from my job. It was perfect.

E fell asleep in the car on the drive over and I had to make numerous trips to and from the car to bring over all of his stuff: diapers, blankets, change of clothes, a few toys, bottles, the works. I dropped him off, kissed his tiny face, breathed in one last breath of his special baby smell, and left for work. I cried pretty hard before I pulled out of the parking spot.

Luckily, the first day back at work consisted of wading through 12 weeks of email and a steady stream of visitors stopping by to say hello. E decided to make his appearance 3.5 weeks early, so I never really got to tie up loose ends at work or say goodbye. All I could think about the whole day was E. That was only natural, I was constantly talking about him and showing pictures and videos of him on my phone. I was so happy to leave work and pick him up.

My first days back at work have helped me come up with a few tips that may help new moms about to rejoin the working world after a maternity leave.

  • Bring lots of pictures. It helped that people kept asking about him in the weeks after my return to work, so I was constantly emailing myself at work with pictures. Makes for a great screensaver too. You may even ask your care provider to send you pictures of your baby during the day if they are able to. It helps make the day go by a bit faster if you can see your sweet one in "real time".
  • Drop baby's things off ahead of time if possible. I made multiple trips to and from the car bringing all of E's things. If your baby is staying in a home setting (daycare or otherwise), see about dropping some of their things off early. Hauling a case of diapers up a flight of stairs in heels isn't fun.
  • Make sure your care provider is familiar with breastmilk handling. My friend wasn't familiar with how to handle breastmilk so I emailed her some information ahead of time. I also provided her with a magnet going over frozen, refrigerated, and fresh breastmilk. I got the magnet at a local hospital's breastfeeding resource center, but Kellymom.com has a great quick reference card that can be printed.
  • Build up a stash. I started pumping to build a stash a few weeks before heading back to work. I pumped once or twice a day, usually first thing in the morning and/or last thing at night. I would make sure D would be home to watch the baby. Don't be disappointed if you only get a few ounces. Anything in the freezer is good, you never know when that extra ounce will come in handy.
  • Go over any specific feeding instructions. My biggest fear with E taking a bottle on a regular basis was that he would get lazy. Since the milk flows easier from a bottle than the breast, I was afraid that he would get frustrated when drinking from the tap and I'd have to pump full time.
    Thankfully, my good friend A shared a great article from Nurtured Child on bottle feeding a breastfed baby and I passed it on to my friend/sitter. A had also sent me a PDF of ways for a bottle to be held so baby would have to work at getting the milk, like they would on the breast. Of course this didn't mimic it perfectly, nor did it account for letdown, but it was very effective. I am thankful that E didn't have any nipple confusion while switching from breast to bottle and back again. I couldn't find the exact file that A sent me, but Best For Babes has an informative article with pictures.
  • Provide extra milk if possible. I had started pumping to establish a supply a few weeks before starting back at work. I was able to give our provider about 20 ounces of frozen milk as backup. Since I worked close to where she lived, I also told her I could run freshly pumped stuff down to her if she ran out of frozen milk. I had also given her a can of formula we received as a freebie from somewhere as backup to the backup's backup. I was that prepared. We never went into the formula, but the frozen stash was definitely used.
  • Enjoy every minute you can while you're together. All those random afternoon naps where we'd fall asleep while watching "Ellen", wearing him around the house while I made lunch and folded laundry, propping him up on my legs while he moved his arms all over the place... man, I miss those times. Love on that baby just a little bit more :)

It gets easier. Leaving him in the morning isn't nearly as bad as it was those first few weeks. We've fallen into a rhythm that works for us. He waves bye as we leave and is thrilled to see us when we get home from work. Unfortunately, I never stop missing my baby. There are some days where I want to call in sick and stay home with him. Every now and again, I do. What's the fun in having sick time if you can't use it to be "sick"?

If you're heading back to work soon, check out my tips.

[CLOSED] PumpEase Review and Giveaway

After E was born, I had to pump using a hospital grade pump in addition to nursing him so we could get his weight up (that's the really short version of things - here's the long version). I had no idea that hands free bras even existed. For the few weeks after his birth, I would hold the flanges of the breast pump to me for 20-30 minutes at a time. It wasn't very effective - I would lose suction, my hands would hurt, and I would even dribble milk. D rigged a hands free bra for me using an old sports bra, but it wasn't comfortable.

A friend told me about getting a PumpEase hands free pumping bra. I bought one immediately (in Snow Leopard, naturally) and couldn't wait for it to arrive. I got it just in time to use for a few weeks before going back to work, where I would be pumping at least 3 times a day. Disrobing from the waist up just wasn't an option.

I couldn't get over just how much easier pumping got once I started using the hands free bra. I was able to do things while I pumped. I'm able to read a book, eat a snack, type on a computer/laptop/phone, or scratch my nose. In fact, what you're reading right now was written while I was pumping! Having both hands free lets me to relax, which helps with my let down. It also allows me to compress while I pump. I can ensure that my breasts empty fully and hopefully avoid plugged ducts and mastitis.

My favorite thing about PumpEase is how simple it is to put on. Just wrap it around you, over your nursing bra.

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Attach the hooks in front.

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There are three sets of hooks that allow for fluctuation in breast size.

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The six hook and loop closures keep your pump flanges stay in place.

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The flanges are slipped through slits on the front. The fabric is strong enough to support bottles filled with 5 ounces of milk.

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Just put it on and pump!

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PumpEase is also very durable. I have been using mine every day for about a year and it is in like new condition. It's made out of a polyester/spandex blend, but still feels soft on skin. I have spilled some milk on it and it dried quickly. You know how you get a pair of white socks and they look dingy by the second or third wash? That hasn't happened with my PumpEase. It barely looks used and I don't treat it very gently. The stretch is just as good as the day I got it. I would, however, recommend washing it by itself since the hooks can (and do) get caught on things like sweaters. Every time I pull it out of the wash, it gets stuck to something.

Pros:

PumpEase has allowed me to pump efficiently at work, at home, while traveling, even while getting my hair done. I highly recommend it for a mom who plans on pumping frequently. I can't imagine nursing and pumping for as long as I have without one. It is worth every penny.

Cons:

One tiny con, which is more me than the PumpEase: do not wash with sweaters or anything that the hooks can get caught on.

PumpEase is available in a variety of patterns and even in an Organic option. Prices range from $38-$42. Visit PumpEase to purchase.

Now comes the fun part. Wendy at Snugabell has graciously provided a PumpEase to one lucky Lactivist in Louboutins reader! The winner gets to choose from PumpEase Classic or PumpEase Organic. This giveaway is open to residents worldwide! Thank you Wendy!

The giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on Tuesday, February 21, 2012.

Winner will be announced here and chosen through the Rafflecopter tool below.

There are up 5 ways to enter! The only mandatory entry is to leave a comment on this blog post and be sure to use the Rafflecopter tool below to mark it as done. Once it has been marked as done in Rafflecopter, you can unlock up to 4 additional optional entries.

Mandatory entry must be completed in order to be eligible for the drawing.

GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

Congratulations, Kami A!

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Full disclosure: I was not provided with a PumpEase to review. The review is on my own PumpEase Classic in Snow Leopard, which was purchased in 2010.