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Breastfeeding Basics

Let’s Get Down to Business… Of thanking Donor Moms

I have never been a milk donor but I of course have been an advocate and also a hardworking pumping mom. Today as I begin to step up to the plate and plan my baby’s first feeding, I know everything will be okay. And, it’s not because I was able to express some golden colostrum at 37 weeks (yay! Normal). But also because donor moms make a difference and have a different way of helping.

With coronavirus approaching I am considering not signing the waiver to receive donor milk and yet I am starting to realize that I can not feed my baby by myself in the early days. Every baby everywhere has a right to passive immunity and it’s not just about immunity to stop the coronavirus. It’s about immunity to build up from where they are at and defeat other little things that they have no immunity to. It takes at least 48 hours from when the placenta is delivered to when a mother can begin to produce her own transitional breastmilk. She may have some colostrum during that time, but there is no guarantee. Lets take a look at what it takes to get a baby through those first 48 hours on minimum.

For the first day of feedings a baby needs 5-10 mL per feeding every 3 hours for the first 24 hours. For the second day, the baby is going to need 10-20mL per feeding every 3 hours for the second 24 hours. This means that a minimum of 40mL plus 80mL should get you through the first 24 hours. This is 120mL of breastmilk or 4 oz or a half cup of breastmilk.

For the first day of feedings a baby needs 5-10 mL per feeding every 3 hours for the first 24 hours. For the second day, the baby is going to need 10-20mL per feeding every 3 hours for the second 24 hours. This means that a minimum of 40mL plus 80mL should get you through the first 24 hours. This is 120mL of breastmilk or 4 oz or a half cup of breastmilk.

I think it is possible for mom’s to achieve this together if they keep their supply up in an organized fashion. My personal goal is to make 2oz of colostrum before delivery, and then receive less than 2 oz of donor milk to get through the first couple days. Moms and doctors are a little bit different in this regard, and I just like to say really it is a little bit random and not total rocket science, but you can make it into rocket science if you want, to each his own.

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Breastfeeding Basics

Willow vs. Elvie and What to Do?

Credit: willowpump.com

I am one of those rare flowers that actually loves to pump. Heck, I love all things breastfeeding. It’s a time to think, to ponder, to feed and create. I have not tried the Willow or Elvie pumps yet, but I have to admit when I saw them there was something I couldn’t resist. My immediate questions that popped into my mind were, why so expensive? How does the suction work? How do you wash the pieces? Can you pump lying down? And, do people who use these pumps also feel like outcasts or rare flowers in the community? Definitely, laws can bring us together, even pumping laws.

After thinking a little more I decided the best of these pumps for me would be the Willow Pump. It’s about 499 dollars. This is because you can even have the additional feature of being able to lie down. Also when you pump directly into a bag and freeze it immediately, it may have a better effect on the milk. My idea to make this more fun would be to make a mom’s group that focuses on pump sharing. How? Everyone gets a buddy, everyone gets one pump for one side. Buy the maximum bags that you can and everyone gets as many bags as they can or need to use in the moms group. This cuts down on the cost to about 250 dollars. Mom’s groups could happen in nicus. They could happen at work. Or in a church setting. Or even long distance with buddies who live far away. The important thing is to be a source of encouragement and help people work things out. What does this look like?

Source: Willow.com

After thinking a little more I decided the best of these pumps for me would be the willow pump. It’s about 499 dollars. This is because you can even have the additional feature of being able to lie down. Also when you pump directly into a bag and freeze it immediately, it may have a better effect on the milk.

Rituals matter with pumping and motivation matter when pumping. For this reason, I questioned ever using any other pump than the first pump I tried, the medella. There is something about having a ritual that is so helpful in helping things to become streamlined and automatic. You can then trust yourself to start and perform the task when you are feeling down, stressed or out of sorts. For me, even releasing milk into the containers eventually felt like a ritual to me.

Usually you bless the original inventor when someone comes up with a second prototype of the original invention. The second prototype is sort of like a complement to the first. With that in mind, I hope you write the own ending to your pumping story!

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Breastfeeding Basics

Responsive Parenting and My Story of Weaning

As I began weaning my eldest, I began to reflect on the concept of response and the importance it may play in parenting. Being a mother is a wonderful gift and I think that response plays an important role in nursing, feeding, and parenting children.

Weaning can be challenging—both the mother and the child realize how response plays a role in their relationship. I’ve found that reflecting on response as a concept was a beautiful strategy to help me wean my oldest during my pregnancy. I found that around the age my daughter was two years old, there are many other ways that you can respond to a child than by simply nursing them. Although common, it is known that toddlers may benefit from nursing dry, milk, or colostrum response can be a powerful tool in helping a child feel secure, loved, and can learn many new things in a baby-led way. There were times during weaning when I took some time to do different things on my own that had to do with recognizing an internal need I owned going for a walk or simply noticing with love, my daughter play with independence for longer and more engaging sessions that usual.

Weaning can be challenging—both the mother and the child realize how response plays a role in their relationship.

Were the responses always honest? And, how mothers and fathers respond with very unique qualities having to do with attention and care. What does honest really mean? And, if you think it about how we do not know yet, humans may have likely breastfed before they were able to communicate with words and the fact that a child does not yet know how to speak. There is a sense of sacredness in breastfeeding and also in honesty and possibly commitment. A mother and father do care, in different ways. A mother cares a bit with her body and perhaps and bit more with her heightened instinct by transferring her sense of security to her child through holding, loving and yearning. Fathers are very loyal to their children but keep their yearning for something else higher than perhaps the child. It is this lack of knowing that keeps the father’s response honest in the middle of the night or also when a child is fearful or perhaps even hurt or maybe sick.

Some children need more responsiveness perhaps due to where they are in development but also their inherent qualities that are innate.

I think when you as a mom notice that your child does need more responsive qualities in their caregivers in ways that are seperate than weaning this can become especially challenging and also lead to somewhat of a powerless feeling, almost a mild sense of hopelessness tied to a bit of faith in eternity.

Nursing changes me, and most other moms, physically. Also, I was extremely grateful that it gave me a growing sense of confidence, especially when my child was very young, very small and needed food and also immunity protection

I think needs become a sense of connection to yourself along with sometimes your relationship to others later on in life, for example how you feel loss or maybe a bit of grief. There are moments in your life when you can, amazingly easily put something on hold in order to delay gratification until you receive what you may really need later on. To me, this sense of connection to secureness may be related to how you nursed as a child, or maybe weaned. I believe as an IBCLC and also a mom, that how a mother weans can compensate for a the beauty but also the immense challenges a mother may initiates and maintains her nursing.

Nursing changes me, and most other moms, physically. Also, I was extremely grateful that it gave me a growing sense of confidence, especially when my child was very young, very small and needed food and also immunity protection.

Blind faith was what it took me to wean and also at other pivotal moments in my life, if it is good or bad it doesn’t matter as long as you accept that maybe it is something that maybe you could just not do without. I think that essentially unattachment may begin at the beginning of the lifecycle but it is also something you can be in touch with throughout your life kind of like a little flickering candle in the wind. Sometimes you smell the smoke, sometimes you see the flame flicker and other times you just close your eyes and see the flame with a sense of grief that it will always be there. I hope that my daughter got what she needed from her mama milk or nursing experience.

Eventually babies, children, adults and even older adults lessen their connection to the rooting reflex, yet at the same time remembering it helps us to feel safe, nurtured and loved. It is this memory that lasts a lifetime.

It is every mother’s hope to hear the answer “yes, mama, I did,” when mothers ask that question of themselves. Yet when a child is too young to communicate in that manner, mothers and fathers and grandmothers and aunts may begin to answer that question for themselves instead of letting a child speak for themselves. With awareness, around this time, a voice popped into my head. Where did it come from? Was it wise? I did not truly know. To me it was my own voice in a future generation stating a mantra over and over again calling to me, whispering “just a reflex, just a reflex, just a reflex…” I began to think of reflexes, and wondered what are they there for? They are there to keep us safe, to keep us from choking, to keep our eyes from drying up, to prevent us from not being able to conceive of another child, to keep our heart pumping even as we approach starvation, and to show us how to eat and nurture another. Unattachment to our reflexes does facilitate any example of something that does relieve suffering because it is perhaps a bit of give and take with realizing their presence and also yet not needing them. I hoped to give my daughter unattachment by remembering the rooting reflex. The root seems to have a different quality associated with love more than all the other reflexes, yet it also teaches us our first lesson in unattachment through a pattern of remembering and forgetting. Eventually babies, children, adults and even older adults lessen their connection to the rooting reflex, yet at the same time remembering it helps us to feel safe, nurtured and loved. It is this memory that lasts a lifetime. The perhaps Buddhist concept that we can symbolically nurse for a lifetime is challenging to master and even understand. Yet the concept of honoring the mother through compassion affects us all, it affects humanity, and may be carried throughout future generations to come.

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Breastfeeding Basics

Pre-IBCLC Exam Thoughts

When I began this blog almost a year ago, my daughter was not even 6 months old. I remember writing my bio and putting “aspiring IBCLC,” with a sense of hope and determination. Someday… I thought to myself as I was actively completing my five hundred practicum hours under my mentor. The journey was certainly a long one but so far it has been worth it. Yet now, with my exam date less than a month a way reality has begun to sink in, and I am beginning to wondering if someday sooner than I think I may need to delete the word “aspiring,” in my biography section.

One thing that is exciting to me about taking this exam is that this will be the first “international,” exam I have ever taken. Even though I will only be in my little suburban Person test center, it is still neat to think that all across the globe people will be sitting for IBCLC exam licensure around the same time. How perfect is it that of all certifications, the lactation certification is an international one? I think that is great, because all across the world people breastfeed! And, to top it off, the world health organization recommends breastfeeding for the first two years of life.

One thing that is exciting to me about taking this exam is that this will be the first “international,” exam I have ever taken. Even though I will only be in my little suburban Person test center, it is still neat to think that all across the globe people will be sitting for IBCLC exam licensure around the same time.

It will be interesting to think how this blog may also change with time. When I began the blog, there was something exciting about writing aspiring before the letters “IBCLC.” To me this blog is a place with creativity and science meet, a place where together ideas can be explored about breastfeeding journeys, hopes, goals and questions while having a conversation about some of the science of breastfeeding. Since then I have covered topics relating to motherhood and breastfeeding ranging from pumping to sign language to baby massage.

If I pass my IBCLC exam I will be excited about improving this blog in even more ways and looking towards breastfeeding science even more while keeping the conversation fun, light and interesting so passions about breastfeeding and motherhood can unite to give babies and toddlers the very best!

Thanks for reading as I approach these final days up to my exam. I may even have to capitalize on this time with even more to write about in the upcoming weeks. Although I will not be able to talk directly about the exam after I take it, there may be a few generalized comments I can make about how I felt of processed the exam experience.

So here’s to a bit more learning, a bit more breastfeeding, and a bit more creativity in the upcoming weeks!…

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Breastfeeding Basics

Toddler Takes Flight

The first time I flew with a toddler, I have to admit, I was nervous, but I rose to the occasion. The return flight went a little better than the destination flight, and I was glad, because as a tiny tots traveler myself my goal for my daughter has always been to turn her into a little traveler.

Packing for the trip wasn’t as challenging as I thought because I gave myself some alone time and allowed myself to get in the “zone.” To me, packing isn’t all about bringing lots of stuff but sometimes it’s a bit more about your mind and “remembering.” Lots of people forget things on trips but as I pack I try to place, how am I going to be using the thing I bringing, and what my daughter will truly be using. One last word of advice? Always be prepared to be a bit underprepared.

I’ve always wanted to be one of those lactation ladies that supported breastfeeding in public places and been a total advocate, and I’ve kind of been honest with myself that its been a bit of my downfall. But luckily when you got to do what you got to do, there is always a way to rise to the occasion.

The first time I breastfed on plane it was bit ridiculous, but I felt people were still nice about it, and in the end I kind of said “big deal,” to myself, “I didn’t brake any laws.” So, me and my gentle weaning tot got under our little pink blanket, (I had decided not to bring my whole cover because I thought we probably weren’t gonna need it), and her teething side bit me and then she cried when I de-latched her as I am supposed to with my finger.

The second time I breastfed on the plane, she knew what she was doing and I knew what I was doing. I wore my low cut tank top with a button up sweater over it. I sat in a window seat as we flew over the beautiful planes leaving a Las Vegas family vacation. She sat on my lap as she did her latch and looked out the window. And I thought of how its wonderful to have so much time available to nurse on a plane while remembering some of the Nicu nurses and friends who strongly support breastfeeding and all was well. After about 30 minutes she fell asleep on mommy and daddy’s lap right during her nap time. You gotta love it when the world deals you an interesting deck of cards…

Toddler mom life is crazy sometimes. Its messy and filled with fun while making decisions for your child. I am sending Alaska a thank you letter for a wonderful flight and for stewardises that supported breastfeeding with ease when it’s not always easy, not always smooth. I am topping that off with a thank you letter from DHS “safenet,” who happens to support breastfeeding too!! Here’s how you can check out the links to some breastfeeding laws in Oregon: www.healthoregon.org/bf and I am going to make it easy for them while providing the business address they can send the letter too.

I am so grateful that you breastfeed in all fifty states that flying over the planes made me feel high and gleam with pride. Don’t know where you are? Trust, peace out, and just nurse on mama.

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Breastfeeding Basics

Forward thinking thoughts on Donor Milk and Milk Banks

For moms that pump milk, sometimes you may have more milk than your baby needs. Some moms decide that this excess use of milk is best donated, and if you have some to spare, it’s something to consider, though certainly not a must just because you have extra milk. There are other things you can consider as well such as milk shares with other mom’s or storing milk for your baby down the road. Remember that frozen breast milk can be stored in the back of the freezer for as long as six months, as that is the longest way to keep breastmilk.

However, donating to a milk bank is the most commonly recommended way to share milk and it can be pretty fun too! I used to volunteer at a milk bank cataloguing milk that came in as a donation and everything felt very organized and streamlined to me. That sort of organization energy can be very motivating and grounding to a busy mom who is trying to keep her baby fed and well nurtured. Plus donations go to a great cause- helping premature babies live. Studies show that breastmilk can increase a baby’s rate of survival greatly which is a miracle if you think about it. Still that doesn’t obligate any mom to donate by any means. Instead, what I would encourage you to do is see how milk donation can fit into your life and enhance your breastfeeding experience. This has the greatest potential for a win-win situation for all parties, and besides in your new role as a mom, your new baby still comes first.

One of the first things you will have to do when becoming a donor is get screened this includes a blood test to make sure that your milk is safe to give to other baby’s. They will also most likely interview you about any health concerns and any medications you are on.

It’s important to be honest and forthcoming with the milk bank. Keep in mind, during this process, that your milk is specially formulated for your biological baby. This can sometimes be the stressful part of the milk share for some moms. For example, some mom’s ask “how will this donation benefit other babies if it’s meant for my child?” others ask “will this donation change the composition of my milk and ultimately affect my child?” These questions are hard to answer, but worth considering.

However, you will see that when it comes down to it, the process of sharing and equalizing milk may actually contribute to better milk supply, among those premature babies’ moms as well as having a grounding and motivating effect for you. How? By raising the group energy of everyone working together and contributing to the fair allocation of milk through standard practice. Sometimes generosity through a private milk share can come back to serve one less than one thought. Although done with a good intention, it may eventually end up just being an easy way out for the mom that discourages her from working on maintaining her milk supply. Although we may have a good heart when sharing and even ask the mom why she needs it or what her intentions are, it’s good to remember she and even you could need some professional advice over kindness and a good share.

So let’s keep our kindness, group energy and good efforts going towards the bank. Allow the structure to serve you and your baby too, after all, you are the one making the effort. Remember your role as a mom is loving your baby as number one. Keep milk clean, and last but not least… allow your baby the glory of generous heart too.

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Breastfeeding Basics

Self-Care as a Mom may take on new Forms

Before I was a mom, self-care was a staple in my life. I pretty much used self-care as a modality to accomplish a multitude of things in life. For example, I never had to change my eating habits to maintain a healthy weight, I just practiced enjoyable self-care that kept me on track by my own homemade recipes, getting plenty of rest and practicing restorative yoga.

When I became a mom, I realized that self-care can look a little, or a lot different, than it did before a new baby entered your life. Sometimes I barely had time to make it to the bathroom on time, let alone have time for a few hours of restorative yoga. It’s no secret, nothing can truly replace self-care in your life. If you spent ample time in your life practicing self-care before a baby came along, there isn’t a short cut that can get you back to the same place you were before your baby was born and you were practicing self-care for hours on end every day. However some self-care is better than none, and there may be ways to fit little bits of self-care into your own routine with baby that may be new and different than how you were practicing self-care before.

You can begin a breastfeeding meditation practice by savoring the quiet hours spent breastfeeding, focusing on your breath and even various sensations you feel during breastfeeding. Some people have even taken meditation and breastfeeding as far as doing a yoga pose while breastfeeding, which is pretty neat! I haven’t been able to master that yet, but it is definitely something to aspire to.

For example, one of my friends told me how she was practicing meditation while breastfeeding at night. When beginning a meditation practice, it can feel like you are putting a little work in on the front end, but after a little practice it feels pretty relaxing and the mindfulness pays off into other areas of your life. Meditation while breastfeeding is a perfect combination because most people enjoy breastfeeding their baby, but it can also get a little monotonous at times as it happens for hours on end throughout the day.

Other examples of self-care that can be practiced while taking care of your baby is truly loving on your baby. Think about the things you enjoy about being a mom and make a quick gratitude list. Maybe they are simple things like the cuteness of your baby, the sounds your baby makes, a good photo you got the other day. As we appreciate the good in life it seems to make piles of laundry a little easier. I also incorporate loving kindness into the practice of caring for my little one and it would make my mind go quiet and become grateful while doing what may seem like tedious tasks. Take time to smile at your baby during changes and treat them like a true friend explaining everything you are doing to care for them as you do it.

It’s all about choices and it is helpful to prioritize what self-care you value over others, while still keeping a light heart about everything. I stay free formed and light heart and don’t restrict make up, but if it’s too much that day I let the critical voice in my head take a hike!

Allow yourself to let go of some of the standards you held high for yourself before having children. For example, I am comfortable going out of the house without make up on now. I never wore tons of make up before being a mom so this was not a huge step for me, but I could see anyone taking baby steps in this direction. For me skipping some natural looking eyeliner and bronzer could save me lots of time and I could devote that time to a more rewarding form of self-care like doing ab exercises.

Another thing I noticed as a new mom was the desire to reach out and be more social than before. Birth is such a life changing experience and as a new mom we go so far as to taking on a new identity. We also have lots of new happy chemicals flying through our bloodstream like oxycytocin. Every mom needs support and being social can be a great way to get it. There are lots of new mom groups like La Leche league, baby-wearing clubs and breastfeeding support groups. I made a lot of new friends at these groups. It’s pretty neat how having something in common like the life change of becoming a new mom can break down any barriers and differences between various people and you can even form a few unlikely friendship you might not have found without being a mom. But, just listen to how this life change speaks to you and ask yourself what new forms of self-care might be calling to you in your life, it could be friendships as it was for me, but it could also look like seeing a different side of nature, working on posture, renewing an old relationship or picking up a new skill.

These are just a few ideas to get you started on incorporating self-care in a new way into your life. The list doesn’t end here, but the main idea is that give your self-care goals a sense of flexibility when tackling mom life. You may not have the same amount of time that you did before for self-care, but there certainly are some creative ways to fit in self-care as a mom throughout your day.