What Breastfeeding Has Taught Me About My Body

by Jessica Martin-Weber
This post made possible by the generous support of Natracare.

 

Breastfeeding and my body has been a bit of a getting to know you experience. What I thought I knew about my body changed and what I never considered emerged as all consuming. One surprise after another and even after 7 kids I’m still learning about my body thanks to breastfeeding. Turns out, breastfeeding has shown me that my body is a veritable fun-house full of tricks and surprises.

Thanks to breastfeeding, I’ve learned that:

My body is smart. It knows all kinds of things, like when I’m growing a baby in my body, when I’m growing a baby outside of my body, when my baby is getting hungry even when she’s still asleep and I LEAK. It even knows when my baby’s temperature isn’t quite right and my breasts will adjust their temp to help cool my baby or warm her up.

My odor can change– thank you hormones! Hot flashes aren’t just for menopause, nope. The first few months of breastfeeding brings all the hot flashes and I had to up my deodorant game. Even after things settle a bit my, uh, scent, is totally different and a lot stronger while I’m breastfeeding. I’ve heard rumors that’s to help baby find me and while that may be true, she’s not the only one!

That there is a wide range of normal. For me, 7 babies has been 7 different experiences, all within that wide range of normal. Nothing like thinking “I’ve got this, done it before” only to feel like it is a case of the body snatcher. Leak and feel let down every time with one baby? Doesn’t mean it will happen with the next! Hold on for the wild ride of “normal”. Some people leak and some people don’t. Breastfeeding isn’t one-size-fits-most, “normal” likes to mix things up!

My body rises to the challenge. That it will make exactly the amount of milk my baby needs and then some if I ask it too. Milk supply issues are real and frustrating to deal with but if everything is working how it is set up to work, if you ask it, milk will come.

My body is sensitive, how I treat it and what I put on/in it matters. Turns out my body doesn’t like certain things so much. It is sensitive to not drinking enough water, the kinds of foods I eat, the chemicals in my laundry detergent, what my nursing pads are made out of (these disposables are chlorine-free)… it is even picky about my deodorant! I discovered that even nursing pads could irritate my breastfeeding breasts and the food I ate could even change the color and smell of my milk!

My body is strong and can tolerate a lot. Like lack of sleep. Somehow I sleep less than a sorority girl during pledge week and my body still makes what’s basically a magic elixir that sustains an entire other human being. I’ve tolerated bloody nipples, a baby needing to feed every 2 hours, pumping around the clock, and more. All while sleep deprived. 

I can go over 2 years without a menstrual cycle… and everything is totally fine. Between pregnancy and then the delay in the return of my fertility while breastfeeding (called amenorrhea), I can go over 2 years without a period. Which is fine by me! But when it does come, it’s like my uterus goes all Carrie on me. Crime scene. CSI. One must be prepared.

My body changes and change is natural– there’s no going back, only forward. Why would I want to go back to the time before my sweet baby anyway? My body has changed with pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and sleep deprivation. The evidence of my children is etched into my body, I have changed and I will never go back.

My body can heal and sustain life at the same time. After a baby is born and begins to breastfeed, that very breastfeeding signals the uterus to contract and begin to heal the open wound left by the placenta. It’s about as pleasant as having your insides run through a garbage disposal but it can save your life, reduce your bleeding time, and help your uterus heal. ALL AT THE SAME TIME AS FEEDING YOUR BABY. No big.

My body needs a lot of water. So much water. I’m basically a fish living on land.

With breastfeeding, my body needs a lot of food too. Yes, I am hungry. Again.

My skin is stretchy. Very, very stretchy. When I’m not breastfeeding, socks with rocks. When I am breastfeeding, melons. I really never could have imagined how much stretch is possible. Also… niplash.

Everything is connected and what I do today matters tomorrow- for my body, my family, and the earth. Breastfeeding has made me more aware of how I treat all of them and how they all impact the other. I make choices now to care for and protect all of them. When I take care of my body, I’m better able to care for my family and the earth (such as with organic, chlorine-free, biodegradable and compostable products like these nursing pads, these wipes, these postpartum pads, and these menstrual products).

There’s a lot I don’t know. That should have been obvious but I had no idea how much I didn’t know. Breastfeeding has been my body school. So much has taken me by surprise since having children including just how much I don’t know about my own body and how it works. I’ve learned a lot over time because I was confused and then curious and had to learn.

Watch me go through my list and then some in this 10 minute video!

Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of BeyondMoi.com, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 7 daughters with her husband of 22 years.

 

 

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How Anyone Can Celebrate and Support Black Breastfeeding Week

by Jessica Martin-Weber with special guests Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka, Waetie Saana Cooper Burnette, Dominique Bellegarde,Fortune Glasse Cotten
This post made possible by the generous sponsorship of Ameda, Inc.

Ameda Finesse Double Electric Breast pump

 

What if the risk of infant mortality was twice as high for one particularly vulnerable group? What if there was a simple measure to reduce infant mortality? What if there was a significant gap for the most vulnerable group in accessing that measure? Wouldn’t it be time to raise awareness and celebrate when it does happen?

 

To learn about BreastPowered and prepare for Black Breastfeeding Week, The Leaky Boob visited via Facebook livestream with Black Breastfeeding Week co-founder Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka, CNM (read an interview with Anaya here) and part of the BreastPowered.org team, Waetie Sanaa Cooper Burnette, Dominique Bellegarda, and Fortune Glasse Cotten, winners of the MIT Hack My Pump-A-Thon 2018 Ameda Connections Award. These wise women shared practical ways anyone and everyone can prepare for, support, and honor Black Breastfeeding Week and celebrate black breastfeeding. See their suggestions below.

Photo Credit: Isreal Jean of Breastfeeding in Color.

 

How YOU can celebrate Black Breastfeeding Week

Anyone can celebrate black breastfeeding week and having the support of groups outside the black community is important too.

Inform yourself. Don’t understand why Black Breastfeeding Week is necessary?** Google and read what black women have said why this is important (start here) and then believe the experience of the black women that say this is necessary.

Share information promoting Black Breastfeeding Week on social media channels as well as in real life too.

Like and share images of black women breastfeeding. Representation matters, you can help celebrate black breastfeeding by helping make it visible. You never know when just seeing breastfeeding is all the encouragement someone needed to feel confident in their own breastfeeding journey.

Share your own story as a black mother and why this is important to you. If you’re not a black mother, share the stories of others and why this is important to you.  The more the information is out there, the more other mothers are reached and supported.

Do something through your own channels to show you are a black mom breastfeeding or that you support black breastfeeding such as one-a-day photo social media posts featuring black women breastfeeding (yourself or others).

Amplify the voices of black women sharing their stories, efforts to promote black breastfeeding, and taking steps for equity.

Attend Black Breastfeeding Week and black breastfeeding events in support- sometimes the biggest thing you can do is help make sure it is a full house.

Visit breastpowered.org, blackbreastfeedingweek.com, breastfeedingrose.org, and other organizations to find out how you can get involved and learn more.

Support an event even if you are not going in person by sharing and spreading word, donating, and volunteering.

Donate through BBW’s fundraiser to help events all across the USA through a $250 mini grant program run by Black Breastfeeding Week.

Photo Credit: Erin White

Larger Picture- Beyond One Week

Whatever your race, be a breastfeeding ally and ecstatic about those in your life breastfeeding! Be sure that anyone in your life that is breastfeeding knows for sure that you support them and you are not neutral. Not just as a one day/one week kind of thing but an all the time kind of thing.

Find your frontline- may be your work place, your family, your church, your social media, etc. and recognize where your power is and take a stand and put in the work wherever you are to be antiracism and fight for equity for all.

 

** Black breastfeeding week is about recognizing black women as humans and supporting black women in having all the basic opportunities and support that everyone should have. For more on why Black Breastfeeding was started, see here.

 

 

Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka, CNM, MSN, MSEd is a nurse-midwife and innovative culture worker leveraging digital media to impact health and parenting. Clinically, she cares for women across the life span in Washington, D.C. Anayah also writes, speaks and consults with organizations on using social media to deepen community building and leverage social change. Anayah is a co-founder of Black Breastfeeding Week, co-editor of Free to Breastfeed: Voices from Black Mothers(Praeclarus Press), and consultant with MomsRising

 

 

Waetie Saana Cooper Burnette’s undergrad studies focused on anthropology and gender. These studies laid a unique foundation for her work with Breastpowered.org collaborating with families, recruitment, resource-building, and student support with innovative programming, grant writing, and attention to all families receiving equitable access to services. She is excited to focus on expanding the ways that the worlds of art, story-telling, and public health awareness can fuel our efforts to increase funding for lactation services for women of color. Waetie Sanaa co-facilitates the weekly breastfeeding group at Codman Square Health Center with Jenny Weaver, writes a blog for the Vital Village site Daily Milk, and is excited to work as a ROSE Community Transformer.

 

Dominique Bellegarde is a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) who has worked with Women, Infant & Children (WIC) for more than 10 years as a peer counselor helping mothers meet their breastfeeding goals from home and hospital visits to supportive text messaging and video chats. Dominique teaches a Breastfeeding class every other week at Codman Square Health Center for pregnant women and their partners. She also co-facilitates the well-known Baby Cafe at Codman Square Health Center. With a degree in human services, Dominique is currently pursuing becoming an IBCLC.

 

 

Fortune Glasse Cotten is a mother, attorney, and breastfeeding advocate. Her own experience birthing and exclusively breastfeeding her son has led her on this journey seeking to support other mothers of color. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Columbia University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School. Fortune lives in Las Vegas, Nevada with her husband and son.

 

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Tips For Hiking With Baby- The Family Hike

by Jessica Martin-Weber
This article made possible by the generous support of We Made Me Baby Carriers.

 

Whether it is out in nature in a park or an urban hike, venturing out for walks together with your family can become a regular part of your family routine. Though it can seem overwhelming to get out of the house and tackle even the most mundane activities with a baby and young children, with a little bit of planning and having realistic expectations, hiking with babies and young children can easily become a favorite activity for the whole family. 

I initially started family hikes because I needed to get moving and never could find the time without kids to get in any kind of effective workout. My only goal was to get my own body moving while still taking care of my children. Walking around our neighborhood was fine but got boring and I wanted some diversity, so I started looking for hiking trails in our area. It didn’t take long for me to realize there were a number of other benefits to hiking for my whole family. 

Family hikes are an opportunity for shared family fun experiences, expose your children to the world around them, normalize physical activity for your children, give you the chance to be physically active while being with your family, and connect your family more deeply with nature and/or your community. Hiking with my children has helped me find energy by getting moving and helped my kids burn energy by getting out of the house. Sleep has improved with regular hikes, our knowledge of our community has grown, and as our screen time has been reduced, our communication with each other has grown. I love the conversations that flow during hikes with my older children and I treasure the exploration that feeds my younger children’s curiosity, and there’s nothing like my baby’s calm happiness being close to me as she observes the world around her on our walks. There is something in particular about being out in nature, walking and soaking in fresh air away from the expectations of house keeping and other responsibilities that is like a deep cleansing breath that helps me tune in more and be the parent I want to be. Whether it is a new hike we’re trying for the first time or an old favorite, venturing out with the family has brought us closer together and been a centering part of our week.

In the years I’ve been hiking with my family, there are a few things I’ve learned to help make it easier and more enjoyable for all of us. If it is overly complicated or isn’t fun, it isn’t going to happen. Here are my tips for getting hiking with baby and small children.

  • Know where you’re going. Paved path? Woodsy trail? Shade? Full sun? Waterfalls? Water? Buggy area? Steep incline? Bathrooms available? How long is the trail (double or triple the time if you have toddlers or small children walking too)? Look up as much information as you can on any designated hike and hiking area. If it is a public park most have information on their website and Yelp reviews can be helpful in knowing what to expect including difficulty level, terrain, and amenities. Dress appropriately (if you’re breastfeeding, be sure your clothes make that cool and easy with babywearing!) and select the right type of footwear. Higher elevation may be cooler, be prepared with sunblock (if you need it, put it on before leaving the house), hats, insect repellent, change of clothes, etc.
  • Babywear/Toddlerwear. Maybe even preschoolerwear. Select a carrier you are comfortable using, can adjust, is breathable, lightweight, and supportive. If you’re not sure what kind of carrier that is for you, see if you can visit a local babywearing group and if they have a library, try several options. Join social media groups to learn more about options. Keep in mind that one person’s favorite carrier may not work for you, and your favorite may be considered “undesirable” by someone else. Baby carrier preference can be very individual.
  • Comfortable shoes. Typically sneakers with thick breathable socks for everyone are a safe bet but some hikes will be better with hiking boots or hiking sandals depending on the terrain. When it is hot, hiking sandals on a paved path are a great option for breathable comfort and support.
  • Share the load. Pick a carrier that works for you and your hiking partner if applicable so you take turns babywearing. My partner, my teens, and I can all use the We Made Me Venture carrier so instead of us bringing different carriers along or having just one person wear her, we take turns with her in the Venture. Be sure the one being worn is comfy too, knee to knee support in the seat of the carrier will help their legs be more comfortable, avoid irritating their sensitive skin, and make it a smoother ride for your baby or toddler.
  • Hydrate! This is important for everyone, any time but particularly for young children and if you are breastfeeding and when it is very hot. Water bottles that fit in back-pack pockets or hip holsters, camel-back systems, and fresh fruit can help your crew stay hydrated.
  • Fuel. Have easy snacks you know are favorites. A hangry toddler out in the woods will be misery for everyone so be prepared. Remember there may not be good places to stop on nature hikes, and leave the place in the same condition you found it in.
  • Community. For inspiration/ideas, join a local hiking group such as Hike It Baby.
  • Be in the moment. Family hikes are less about exercise and more about taking in the setting and spending time together. Enjoy it for what it is. Babywearing can certainly make it more of a workout, though be sure you are aware of your posture and engage your core to help you avoid straining or injuring yourself. With toddlers and young children, play games such as I Spy or a nature scavenger hunt can help hold their interest.
  • Know your limits. Even a short hike is worthwhile. Get started with something that isn’t going to physically push or stretch anyone in your party, including you. Pick a time of day that is already an energetic time and won’t interrupt a nap. Be realistic and flexible. Take breaks as needed and keep the rest of the schedule that day open. If it doesn’t go well once, don’t give up, try a different type of hike at a different time another day and see if that helps. Respecting your limits is key to having fun!
Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of BeyondMoi.com, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 7 daughters with her husband of 21 years.
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9 Months On, 9 Months Off- This is not a weight loss story

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This article made possible thanks to We Made Me, dedicated to enhancing and supporting the wellbeing, comfort, and the bond, of parents and their babies. Thanks also to Mama Strut, Bamboobies, and Britax.

 

I am enough just exactly how I am.

That doesn’t mean I can’t want to change somethings.

Like I’d like to not feel winded going up a set of stairs.

Enter the postpartum weight loss plan!

Just kidding. We’re not doing that.

They say it is 9 months on, 9 months off when it comes to shedding pregnancy pounds but in my experience, it isn’t just the pounds our mombods are dealing with. It’s the lack of sleep, the aching hip joints, the lack of sleep, struggling to find time, and the lack of sleep.

Did I mention lack of sleep?

Which is ok, really. It’s fine. I mean, no big.

Except it kind of is.

Lucky is 9 months old now and I feel like my body is still sorting things out. Expectations are constantly fluctuating, much like my breasts are depending on when Lucky fed last.

I’m working on getting moving more because the truth is, I just FEEL better when I do. But this time around I’m looking at what it means to be moving towards better health over all. Because as a whole, that’s what I want. Figuring out what that means for me right now has been a bit of a journey. It isn’t as simple as just getting in shape because everything is connected in my life. I want to move towards better health in my relationships, in my work life balance, in my personal growth, in my physical health including sleep and physical activity and my relationship with food.

Getting moving, having forward motion in my life looks different at all different stages. Last year, in the midst of an HG pregnancy, getting moving looked WAY different than it does this year. And next year it will look different again with an active toddler in the picture. In immediate postpartum, getting moving looks different than it does at 6 months postpartum. That’s ok. Realistic goals and expectations along with a perspective that there’s a lot that matters in my life that deserves movement helps me stay inspired to keep moving.

So I’m keeping it real and sharing on The Leaky Boob Instagram and Facebook page. Right now, most of my physical movement is done with the cutest companion which means it is low impact and, well, sporadic. I’m hardly #fitspiration. But I’m making movement, slowly but surely. That’s not all, either, I’ve started some intentional steps to make movement in the other areas that are important to me; my relationships (including my partner, children, and friends), my creative expression, my personal growth and healing (yay therapy!), and my sleep.

I don’t know if you have goals to get moving or what areas of your life need movement but I hope you’ll share them with us.

The team that has come together as our #TLBmoves2018 ambassadors are some incredible people. They are bravely sharing their experiences and journeys and what “getting moving” means for them. From the immediate postpartum to due in a few weeks or a month or so, from first time parents to experienced veterans, from fitness guru to not-exactly-fit, from disabled to able-body, our #TLBmoves team for 2018 are each inspiring. They encourage me to move in my life in new and brave ways.

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Meet our Campaign Ambassadors

These hand-picked, fearless #TLBmoves 2018 Campaign Ambassadors are moms just like you and me, overwhelmed with joy, and just overwhelmed, needing both sleep and coffee, and trying to figure out how they can keep looking out for their own health while tending to the wellbeing of someone(s) completely dependent on them. They are us. We are them. Follow their Instagram accounts to keep up with their #TLBmoves experience, to get their first-hand impressions of the products featured in this campaign giveaway, and be sure to follow The Leaky Boob’s Instagram as I will be featuring their best content there too.

Alicia: mom of 2 (ages 10 and 3), and expecting #3! Activities that keep her moving: chasing 3 yo everywhere and dancing with her while cooking.

Alyssa: 5 kids, 3 cats. Keeps moving by lifting weights, aerial, and running. Huge weight watchers advocate!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alicia’s Instagram ~ Alyssa’s #TLBmoves posts will be on TLB’s Instagram

 

Destiny: 2 kids (2, and 2 weeks old). Gets moving by going for walks and letting her 2 yr old run himself to sleep.

Kita: 4 kids, babywearing educator. Always out and about with her kids. Wear all the babies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Destiny’s Instagram ~ Kita’s Instagram

 

Nikki: 2 kids and one on the way. Currently working hard at keeping that baby in!

Rachel: 4 kids, and foster mom. Recovering from PSD, so her husband Noah will be helping out with the “Getting Moving” category

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nikki’s Instagram ~ Rachel’s Instagram

Follow Nikki on her blog, AprilandOctober.com, and Facebook

You can also follow Rachel on her blog, SheRockstheCradle.com, and Facebook

 

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Meet #TLBmove’s Sponsoring Brands
And the Products They’re Giving Away!

 

We Made Me
featuring the Flow active wrap.

Flow is our life active wrap – soft, light and breathable. Flow has a flexible fabric, which shapes to the contours of your body, echoing the beauty in both you and your baby, but only stretching in one direction, providing comfort, room to move, combined with vertical lift. Made to fit around you and the day ahead, Flow is suitable from birth, and a versatile and intimate experience for you and your newborn. Retail value: $79.99

We Made Me was born out of a simple passion: to create thoughtful products, dedicated to enhancing and supporting you, and your baby’s wellbeing, comfort and opportunity to bond.

Our product collections are all made with good conscience and an unflinching commitment to style, functionality, and above all: safety.

 

Mama Strut

Mama Strut is a wearable soft brace that is uniquely engineered to deliver heat/ice therapy to reduce birth pain, swelling and cramping from vaginal deliveries, c-sections, and vaginal prolapse, while also supporting the back and abdomen with multi-directional adjustable compression. Designed by a Mom of three to offer women increased relief and mobility after childbirth. Retail Value: $129.99

Get a free accessory pack with the purchase of a Mama Strut using the code: tlb2018 @ mamastrut.com (add the pack to your basket).

Mama Strut brings clinically proven Sports Medicine Technology to mama care. It was specifically designed for mamas by a mama and has been validated by medical professionals as well as many mama users.

 

Bamboobies
featuring the Yoga Nursing Brahhh

The NEW, award-winning Bamboobies Yoga Nursing Brahhh is designed to keep new moms comfortable, fashionable, and feeling great throughout the day. You can rock your yoga class or just feel good walking around the park! This bra is so comfortable, we hear a lot of moms-to-be and new moms sleep in it for light support throughout the night too.

The bamboobies Yoga Brahhh is made with super-soft, eco-friendly bamboo rayon fabric, making it breathable and moisture-wicking for active moms. Retail Value: $29.99

Bamboobies’ mission is to ensure that new mothers and babies are happier and healthier, and so is their world. Their nursing pads and other SOFT Style solutions have been created with love from one mom to many others. For this campaign Bamboobies has offered a 20% off discount code for their website, just enter TLBmoves20 at checkout on any products excluding bundles and the Kelly Bra.

 

Britax
featuring the Britax Pathway Stroller

Pave your own path with this fashionable, lightweight, one-hand quick-fold stroller. Bold, colorful patterns peek out from below the large UV 50+ canopy, so your personality can be on display. Four wheel design gives baby a smooth and steady ride. Baby’s seat can recline fully for nap time on-the-go, and an extra-large storage basket plus a zippered pocket makes it easy to bring along everything you need. Click & Go adapters are included, so it can easily be made into a travel system if needed. Retail Value: $229.99

Britax believes that family life should be lived without limit – a world where parents and children are free to make the most of every moment together.

 

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The Giveaway

A huge thank you to the sponsors of #TLBmoves 2018 and this giveaway – brands that believe in supporting moms and their babies. This giveaway is made possible by them. It includes a grand prize featuring all of the products above, and 4 other winners will receive one of the Yoga Nursing Brahhhs. Please use the widget below to participate.

By participating in this giveaway, you are granting permission for The Leaky Boob to share your name and email address with the sponsors of this giveaway. Please be honest in your participation – we will be checking! Good luck, everyone! 

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The Mother’s Day of Your Choice

If you could have the perfect day for Mothers Day, what would your perfect day look like?

For me the answer to this question changes depending on life stage, circumstances, age of my children, and more.

But even more than that, it can depend on whether or not I think I’m worthy of having a day of my dreams.

Understanding this for me personally, I hope you can hear this:

You matter. You are enough. You are important.

You are worth celebrating.

You are worth celebrating on Mother’s Day.

With that in mind, what would your perfect day celebrating you as a mother look like?

Mother’s Day can be weird for many of us. It can feel contrived, a fake holiday to guilt people into spending more money. Maybe it brings up complicated feelings about our own mothers or complicated feelings about our mothering. Sometimes we feel MORE invisible on Mother’s Day when those around us seem not to notice us or the day. It may raise questions about what we do that’s worth a whole day set aside to celebrate or maybe it highlights how inadequate we feel. It may even lead to questioning what makes one a mother. For some Mother’s Day reveals how desperately we want a break from being a mom. For some it reveals how desperately we want to be a mom. For some it reveals how much they have a mothering spirit while others may feel it reveals they don’t. And many of us may wonder why we need a special day set aside to appreciate mothers- shouldn’t that be every day?

Some lucky ones experience Mother’s Day as a special time to honor their own mother and celebrate their own motherhood.

It’s a day fraught with clichés and complexity.

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, it’s time for us to realize once again that we’ve just about heard it all:

  • Yes, we all have a mother.
  • Mothers are amazing.
  • Mothers are underappreciated.
  • Flowers and homemade cards are the best way to celebrate mothers.
  • Wine and time away from our children are the gift all honest mothers crave.

How do we celebrate moms without clichés?

By embracing where we are in our journey without guilt or shame. Sure, be aware of where you need to grow and change but shame doesn’t help that journey so let’s all agree to just skip that.

This Mother’s Day, if you haven’t already, prepare by sharing with those close to you what you’d like to do, how you enjoy celebrating, and what you’d really love to receive. If that’s a nap, tell them! If that’s a mimosa by the pool, tell them! If that’s spending the day child-free doing whatever you’d like to do, tell them that too. If you’d prefer to spend the day at the park with your family and receive a card and a special necklace, share that with them.

I hope you get to experience the Mother’s Day that will mean the most to you with respect to your personal journey. Whatever that looks like.

Most of all though, I hope you grow in your understanding that you matter, you are enough, you are important, and you are worth celebrating.

To help with that, we’re focusing on celebrating you and the mother-spirit this week with a campaign #TLBmom and a giveaway to go with it featuring brands that value mothers every day, celebrating you like every day is Mother’s day.

The support that The Leaky Boob is able to offer every day is made possible thanks to brands such as these. Not only do they believe in you and me they exist to make the world a better and more beautiful place. I hope you’ll love them as much as I do. Take a moment to follow them all on social media, see what they’re about, and check out what products might make your life better and more beautiful.

The giveaway:

Alter Eco – Fair Trade chocolates, Baby K’Tan – Active Wrap, Cake Maternity – Cotton Candy Seamless Nursing Bra, Indigo Willow breast milk jewelry – Clair de Lune ring, Natracare – cloth shoulder bag full of earth-friendly feminine/baby products, Latched Mama – Drawstring T-Shirt Dress in Black Vintage Rose, Glamourmom – nursing long top

 

One winner gets all of the product above, and 10 others will win some Natracare products in a small cloth bag. That’s 11 lucky Leakies!

Please use the following widget to enter the giveaway. Good luck, and Happy Mother’s Day!

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The Leaky Boob Community Private Facebook Group Guidelines

This post is for those requesting to join The Leaky Boob Community Private Facebook Group to read to determine if they are a good fit for our group. Please note you will have to answer questions in requesting the join the group and there is one that can only be answered if you have read the interaction guidelines agreement entirely.

By participating in this group (from your very first comment or post) you are agreeing to these guidelines. Violation of these guidelines may result in removal or banning from the community.

The Leaky Boob Facebook group is the community extension of theleakyboob.com and the Facebook page, The Leaky Boob. Please find more support in those spaces as well.

By joining and interacting in our group you agree with our community to these interaction guidelines. These are our agreements together.

The Leaky Boob Interaction Guidelines:

Absolutely do not block any moderators. Members who block moderators will be banned. Please see current list of moderators at the bottom of this post.

No buy/sell/trade activities in this space (including milk sharing/milk donation requests/offers), The Leaky Boob admin and moderators are not responsible for b/s/t instigated by members. This includes “vote for me” posts. There may, on occasion be opportunities vetted and approved by TLB leadership for special group buys, etc. Such occasions will be clearly communicated from TLB’s leadership.

There are no stupid questions. Ask what you need to ask.

Keep the focus on parenting, infant feeding, etc. Way off-topic posts (such as politics) will be deleted.

No photoshop/photo editing requests please, there are groups and sites specifically for these purposes and the requests flood our wall and make it difficult for members to find feeding and parenting support.

Check combative attitudes and language at the door and stick with respectful and encouraging exchanges. Violent language of any type is not permitted in our community even when used figuratively or in venting. This includes expressions of acts of physical violence (i.e. hit someone, smack someone, throat punch, etc.) and threats of violence (i.e. want to kills someone, run them over with a car, etc.). The exception is if you have experienced violence personally and are sharing your story and situation. (For more on this, see this thread.)

Disagreements are fine, name calling, racist statements, bullying, bashing, and offensive language is not.

GoFundMe, or other fundraising that has not specifically been vetted and approved by TLB leadership are also not permitted here. To protect our community, we ask that fundraising or other financial support not be conducted here. Additionally, please understand that we will not be able to view or approve every request. If something emerges for someone within our community and some support seems necessary, please consult with an admin before officially launching any efforts in our community.

To keep our community supportive and safe, please bring complaints up first privately to a moderator or admin.

We do not permit posts about posts in our group be it direct or implied. If a post is removed and another post is made about the post being removed, that too is a violation of our community agreement to not promote drama. Any posts made about other posts will be automatically deleted. Continuing to make posts about other posts will result in removal from our group.

Racism has no place here. Racist images, comments, and speaking of any racial group in demeaning ways is prohibited. Aggressive racist comments and hostile demeaning racist language (such as the N-word) will result in instant banning. We agree to be open to respectful conversations on matters of race seeking to educate ourselves and grow as a community and individuals.

This is a drama-free zone, friendly, respectful interactions only please. Posts or members that violate this standard will be deleted.

There is a zero tolerance policy regarding the privacy of our group. Sharing screen shots or discussing the content of the group with those already within the group is acceptable, involving anyone NOT in our group is not. Anyone that does so will be banned upon discovery and not added back to the group. There will not be second chances.

There are two and (for the time being) only two topics that are banned in our community. Please do not post memes or thread topics about circumcision or vaccines in this community. The singular exception to this policy at this time relates to those who are genuinely seeking information for themselves/their children. This might be to help them make a decision or to help them care for their own children. If it seems that this exception is being used disingenuously the admins may need to reconsider the matter.

Absolutely NO name calling, not even of people outside of the group (i.e. don’t call someone’s doctor/husband/parent/friend/boss an idiot). Soft name calling (idiot, moron, etc.) will receive a warning and repeat offenders will be banned, harsh name (bitch, asshole, etc.) may result in banning with no warning. Strong opinions can be shared without belittling or name calling.

Please be sensitive in posting images in posts. Before posting a picture reflect on how it may impact someone else. Breastfeeding photos don’t need to be censored (they are expected though not required in this group) but each member should reflect on photos or content outside of breastfeeding such as anything gross (poop shots, festering wounds, etc.), triggering (abuse, loss, pregnancy tests, etc.), and controversial (politics, known divisive issues, and Miley Cyrus). We still want to share those conversations and believe they are important for our community. Respectful posts about them are most certainly wanted. We’re just asking to consider if the image you’re going to post with it which will inevitably pop up in the news feeds of a few thousand members, is something that is helpful for our community or if it would be better to post the image in the comments.

Here at TLB we value supportive, encouraging interactions. When disagreeing with someone it is to be done respectfully and without ridicule, name calling, or bashing. Users are welcome to agree to disagree with civility and respect. Tone can be difficult to decipher in text only forms but we aim for polite exchanges that value people over being right, relationships over opinions, and support over superiority and judgment. We ask that you aim to keep your comments in the spirit of these values. These values serve to preserve the intent of this community and reflect the website theleakyboob.com in promoting and encouraging a safe community. Interactions that do not reflect these values will be deleted and commenters that continue to interact in such a manner will be banned. If possible we will give users a chance to rectify their interactions that violate the spirit and intent of this page. However, if the abuse continues or if it is too extreme to be permitted to remain on the page for any length of time, it may be deleted without warning at the discretion of the page administrators. Please consider how you could share your opinion without being harsh and critical of those that do not agree with you and if you find that impossible then please refrain from commenting at all. Thank you.

Please note: membership in this community is open to all but persons identifying as male. In order to respect and protect the comfort and safety of all members, who share very personal information in this community, we are not able to add male identifying persons or joint accounts shared with male identifying persons to the community. If you add a friend who shares an account with her male partner the request to add will be ignored. We understand that there are many men who are very supportive of breastfeeding and some male identifying persons that chest feed or otherwise are active participants in feeding their children and we welcome them to participate on the Leaky Boob Facebook Page.

~Jessica

Admins of the group:
Jessica Martin-Weber
Kari Swanson
Serena Tremblay
Heather Mackles
Star Rodriguez-Moser
Krista Canfield
Rebecca Scollon-Butts
Adina Russ Henry
Rachel Iglesia
Rachel Feltaous
Jess White
LaTia Wilson Barrett
Rachelle Markham
DeeDee Putzel
Bryttany Hyde
Victoria Strong
Allyson Storey
Emily Swistak
Emily Alvey-Johnson
Kristine Slayton
Sue Potts
Isreal Jean
Sharona Steed

For more on what this means to us please read this post.

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I Feel My Boobs- 8 Unglamorous Secrets About Breastfeeding

by Jessica Martin-Weber
I touch my boobs a lot. I’m not kidding, a lot a lot. I’ve known this but recently I’ve noticed it even more.
Which got me thinking…
Breastfeeding: when your breasts see more action in one day as a breastfeeding parent than they typically do in a month when you’re not lactating. And that’s with an active and fun sex life. (See 9 Tips to Having More and Better Sex After Baby)
The other morning I woke up to rock hard boobs at 6am and in spite of it being a day when I was supposed to be able to sleep in and my baby was sound asleep, I had to get up. With my breasts full of milk, I was way too uncomfortable to sleep. My boobs were demanding I empty them and so while everyone else slept I joyfully got up and pumped.

Just kidding. I was decidedly not joyful.

I had not-so-nice-words for my pump, even though I like my pump and even though it typically seems to whisper encouragement when I’m pumping, this particular morning I swear it was hissing “eff you, eff you, eff you…”

(Yes, I’m grateful I can breastfeed and that I have enough milk to pump and be a milk donor and meet my baby’s needs but no, I wasn’t joyful to be up at 6am when I otherwise did not need to be.)
There have been a number of articles claiming to expose what nobody ever tells you about breastfeeding or what breastfeeding parents wish they knew about breastfeeding before they breastfed or what surprised them about breastfeeding. So many such articles (I’ve written a few myself), you’d think there was pretty much nothing that anyone actually knew about breastfeeding going into it. As though everyone must experience breastfeeding like “WHOA! NEVER SAW THAT COMIN’!”

Which is, honestly, kind of exactly what it is like. You just can’t REALLY know until you’re in it. There’s no way I would have truly understood just how much I’d be feeling my boobs until I was actually living it.

 While pumping before the sun was up that morning, I stated thinking again of some of the surprising aspects of breastfeeding and put together a new list for you. No, it doesn’t encompass everything and certainly we all have different experiences, but these were some of the ones that even I forget about.
Feeling yourself up. I never knew how often I’d touch my breasts but with breastfeeding I’m regularly handling them and not just to get baby latched. From quick little taps to see which side I should start my baby on to hand expression to breast massage to holding them if I dare the stairs when I’m braless to readjusting things through out the day (hey, they change a lot from one moment to the next!), I’m handling my boobs far more than I ever expected. At this point I do it frequently enough I’m pretty sure I do it in public without even noticing which probably looks a little strange to someone that hasn’t breastfed.
Waking the baby. Who would wake a sleeping baby? A desperate breastfeeding parent, that’s who. Listen, when you wake up and your boob hurts and there’s milk leaking everywhere and you know baby is going to be hungry at some point anyway, waking them to empty a breast that feels like it’s about to explode is basic survival. Besides, it’s not like they’re going to be disappointed.
A critical eye for boob-out-fashion. That dress looked super cute but… I couldn’t get a boob out and frankly we all know what would happen if baby got hungry and boobs started leaking and I couldn’t get the boob out to feed her. Cute or not, I’d rip it to shreds to get her what she needs.
Getting excited about pretty, comfortable, and functional bras. Ridiculously excited. It doesn’t look like a piece of hardware AND you can unclasp each side or pull down easily to feed baby? It’s like Christmas and my birthday all in one! Multiple color options? A touch of lace? Works with even lower cut tops? What is this sorcery? I must have it!
Human scratching post. Babies have razor blades for nails and also have a penchant for gripping things tightly, digging those nails into whatever comes near enough to grasp. Including boobs. Maybe specially boobs. It takes a lot to help baby get latched correctly, positioned comfortably, your breast supported, and somehow defend chest and breasts from baby Wolverine. Having boundaries, keeping their nails trimmed, and doing things like holding their hand or giving them something else to grasp can help or can just turn into a wrestling match with your boobs and chest bearing the brunt featuring welts, scratches, and stab wounds.
Ode to sour milk. I need nursing pads thanks to how much I leak and it can be at any moment. The breast pads help but the truth is I regularly smell like sour milk anyway. My bras, my tops, my sheets. I try to take comfort in the fact that this helps my baby recognize my smell.
So. Much. Time. In many ways breastfeeding can save time and often it can save money too but I am still surprised at just how much time I spend breastfeeding, preparing to breastfeed, thinking about breastfeeding, talking about breastfeeding, and in general, aware of breastfeeding. It may be natural but it didn’t come naturally for me so I spent a LOT of time on it and even when it did get easier, I still spend a lot of time on it. It’s a huge part of my daily life from washing pump parts to storing milk to wondering if that whiff of sour milk came from me to drooling over pretty nursing bras to actually feeding my baby to talking with other breastfeeding parents and sharing stories and information. It takes a lot of time and energy.

Skipping sleeping in. I wanted to sleep in that morning, desperately. There was no way. My breasts were killing me and I didn’t want to risk a clogged duct or possibly hurting my supply by not emptying them when they were full because my baby slept through a feeding. I skipped sleeping in to hook up to a machine that would empty my breasts. Naturally, when I was done putting everything away and laid back down hoping to catch a little more shut-eye, my baby woke up and was ready to feed and play.

It may be unglamorous but that’s a parenting fact, very little of bringing up tiny humans results in feeling put together and ready for the red carpet. But you can’t beat the smiles and snuggles that come with it!

Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of BeyondMoi.com, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 7 daughters with her husband of 21 years.
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How to Select a Breast Pump and Get It Through Your Insurance

by Jessica Martin-Weber with Leah De Shay, IBCLC, and Lauren Bennet, BSN

This article made possible by the generous support of Aeroflow Breastpumps.

Get Paired with your perfect pump through Aeroflow Breastpumps

Disclaimer: This information is not to replace the advice of your health care provider. If you are experiencing breastfeeding difficulties find IBCLC. Not everyone needs to pump, successful breastfeeding is not dependent on pumping if there is no need to pump. This article is simply for information, not promoting any specific pump but rather promoting finding the right pump for your needs.

Selecting a breast pump can be an overwhelming task. It can be confusing to sort through the various pumps on the market, what you need, the terminology, and what to look for in a pump. I talked with IBCLC and mom Leah De Shay, and BSN and pump specialist, Lauren Bennet about the basics of selecting a breast pump and, if you’re in the USA, getting your pump through insurance. You can see the entire conversation here:

I’m frequently asked what is the best pump and while I know people are hoping I’ll give them a specific brand and model of pump, the truth is my answer is way more open:

The best pump for you is the pump that helps you reach your breastfeeding goals within your budget, comfort, ability to operate, and that suits your pumping lifestyle and needs.

There is no one pump I can say is the “best” and while I may have my favorites (and it hasn’t always been the same with each baby), my favorites have been based on what has worked best for me at that time recognizing that my breasts and my lifestyle and pumping needs may not be the same as the next person.

Ameda Finesse breast pump

Ameda Finesse

So how do you figure out what pump you should get?

Fortunately, there are a good number of pumps on the market and it is very likely that there are a few that would be just right for you. Though you can’t know for sure what will work best for you until you try it and sometimes one pump may not be a good choice for you while another one could be ideal, there are steps you can take to get you closer to the perfect pump. Just because one pump works great for your best friend doesn’t mean that your breasts will respond the same to that exact pump or even that one particular pump doesn’t work well for you but another may. The best you can do is see what worked for other people and gather as much information as you can on the various pumps available to you before you make your decision. If you’re feeling confused, the pump specialist at Aeroflow may be able to help you further but for now, we’ll break down the terminology, ask questions to help you determine your pumping lifestyle needs, and share how to get your pump covered through your health insurance as part of the Affordable Care Act. For more in depth information, watch the above video.

Lansinoh Smartpump

What does it all mean?

There’s a lot of terminology used in association with breast pumps and if you don’t know what these concepts mean, it can sounds like a foreign language. This is just a quick look at some of the most frequently used terms:

Manual– a hand pump, doesn’t require electricity or batteries as it is powered manually.

Double Electric– a breast pump that can pump two breasts simultaneously with an electric powered motor.

Closed System– barrier designed to protect pump motor and tubing against moisture, mold, and pathogens.

Personal Grade– not a specific designation but usually used to mean a lower suction level, open or closed system, FDA approved as a single-user, limited pumping hours (usually 300-500), and available to consumers directly through retailers and DMEs (Durable Medical Equipment suppliers) usually with a maximum suction level of 25—300mmhgs.

Hospital Grade– not a specific designation but usually used to mean higher suction levels, closed system, FDA approved as multi-user, and longer life/higher pumping hours and limited availability such as renting through a hospital.

Multi-user– FDA approved for multiple users with their own individual kits.

mmHg– suction level.

Motif Duo Breast Pump

Your Pumping Lifestyle and Needs

While it may be tempting to get the pump with the most bells and whistles, the strongest suction level, and the highest dollar amount, reality is that may not be what you need or even the best pump to help you reach your goals. Keep these factors in mind when you assess your pumping lifestyle and needs:

  • How often do you plan to pump? Is it for working 40 hours a week away from your baby (approx. 3x/day) or to exclusively pump, or once a day as a breastmilk donor, or just for the occasional date night?
  • Will your pump need to be easily portable? Will you be lugging it back and forth frequently or will it be mostly stationary?
  • What will your pumping environment be? A relaxed, private setting, or an open cubicle or your car? Will you be multitasking or able to just focus on pumping? Does it need to be quiet? Will you have limited time available or however much time you need?
  • What type of power source will you need? Will you have access to an outlet?
  • Are there flange size options or will the standard available sizes work for your breasts?
  • How long do you intend to pump? Six weeks, six months, a year, or longer?
  • Will you be dependent on your pump and need to have access to replacement parts quickly?
  • Are you going to be more comfortable with independent speed and suction control or will preset options give you more confidence?
  • Will you need more than one pump?
  • Are there other factors unique to you and your situation you need to consider?

Medela Starter Set

Picking Your Pump

After you determine your pumping lifestyle and needs, you can begin to look at the various pumps available to you taking these factors into consideration. At the end of the day, picking the pump that is best for you is just as important as knowing how to use your pump correctly (i.e. don’t just crank it to the highest setting!). Remember, higher suction isn’t always better, longer cycling isn’t necessarily better at emptying the breast, and bells and whistles may not be what you need. In fact, higher suction can mean less milk output, particularly if the suction level causes pain. Your comfort is key in how you will respond to a pump. The pump that is best for you meets the criteria that fits your pumping lifestyle and needs.

Get your pump through your insurance

The Affordable Care Act means that many insurance plans now cover breast pumps. Each insurance company and even each policy can vary in what is covered, the options available, the criteria that must be met, and timing.

It can all be a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, Aeroflow Breastpumps has streamlined the process, simplifying everything. Typically it takes between 3-5 days to hear back from a Breastpump Specialist from Aeroflow and depending on your insurance provider and policy, you can typically get your pump anywhere from 30-60 days before your due date and any time up to a year after giving birth.

 

how to pick the best breast pump

Here’s what you do:

Submit your medical insurance information with a few other demographics and a dedicated Breastpump Specialist will verify your insurance coverage.

Your Breastpump Specialist will contact you to explain your benefits and your pump options, including possible upgrades and using your FSA or HSA funds to cover an upgrade.

They’ll ship your breast pump!

Find out online if you qualify for a free breast pump through your insurance.

Things Aeroflow Breastpump Specialist does for you:

  • Contact insurance agent and verify coverage.
  • Coordinate with your doctor to get your prescription to your insurance company.
  • Help you understand the different benefits of the variety of breast pumps.
  • Make sure your pump ships at the right time. Some insurance companies limit when a breast pump can ship (for example 30 days before your due date).
  • Handle all the billings with your insurance company.

Aeroflow provides a number of services and resources as well as products that may be helpful to you in reaching your breastfeeding goals. Picking a pump and navigating insurance coverage can be overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be!

 

Leah De Shay graduated from La Sierra University with a degree in Psychology and Speech Pathology and Audiology. She completed her post-baccalaureate work in lactation at University of California, San Diego and went on to get her CLEC (Certificated Lactation Educator Counselor) certificate, and completed her IBCLC (Internationally Board-Certified Lactation Consultant). Leah has since worked in various health care systems, including as Director of the Welcome Baby Program, Providence. She currently serves patients throughout southern CA as the coordinator for infant feeding at LOOM and the Lactation Specialist at Growing Healthy Together. In addition to her clinical practice and as a busy mom herself, Leah also assistant teaches for the UC system. 
Lauren Bennet is a graduate of the Medical University of South Carolina and a Registered Nurse (BSN), and practiced as an intensive care nurse for 3 years. Currently, Lauren leads an incredible group of passionate and fun people at Aeroflow Breastpumps as the team lead managing the breast pump specialists. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, camping and being outdoors in and around Asheville, NC. 

 

Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of BeyondMoi.com, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 7 daughters with her husband of 21 years.
 
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Breastfeeding While Sick and How To Recover Your Supply

by Jessica Martin-Weber with Rene Fisher, IBCLC

This article made possible by the generous support of Ameda.

Ameda Finesse Double Electric Breast pump

*Please note, this is not intended to be health care advice or to replace or be a substitute for being seen by a qualified health care provider. 

Is it ok to breastfeed when you’re sick? Could baby get sick from your milk? From being so close to you if you’re contagious?

We often hear how great breastfeeding is for our babies’ immune systems, a highly motivating reason to  breastfeed. There’s plenty of evidence that shows this to be true and even though it’s no guarantee that our babies will never be sick (lowering risk is not eliminating risk), it can certainly be a motivating factor to breastfeed. In fact, we know that in infants, breastfeeding significantly reduces respiratory infections, gastrointestinal infections, SIDS and infant mortality, allergic disease (asthma, atopic dermatitis, and eczema), celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, and childhood leukemia and lymphoma. (For more, see here and here.) There’s no doubt that breastfeeding can help reduce how often a baby is seek, the severity of their illness, and the duration of their illness. (More on that here.) Most of the time, breastfeeding is exactly what your baby needs when they are sick.

But what about when the breastfeeding parent is the one sick? Particularly with an infectious disease that baby could easily get being in close proximity to the one sick? Is breastmilk that magical it can protect our babies even then?

Not exactly but, well… kind of.

“…the immunologic components found in breast milk appear increasingly likely to play a specific immunologic role in the protection of the nursing infant.” (Mucosal immunity: the immunology of breast milk)

While it is possible your infant nursling could catch a sickness from you even with breastfeeding and since reduced risk doesn’t mean no risk, it certainly does happen, breastfeeding can reduce the duration of infectious disease in the breastfed infant and even beyond the first year of life.

The American Acadamy of Pediatrics recommendation on breastfeeding while sick:

If a mother has a cold or the flu, it is not necessary to discontinue or interrupt breastfeeding. Through breastfeeding, the infant will receive the antibodies that the mother is producing to fight the illness. Most infectious diseases are also not a cause for weaning or interruption. Generally, by the time a disease has been diagnosed, the infant has been exposed and will probably benefit more from the protection he gets from his mother’s breast milk than from weaning. However, each case must be evaluated individually.

There are times when it would be dangerous to breastfeed during an illness such as when the treatment for the illness carries a higher risk to the baby in the mother’s milk than not breastfeeding would. While this is rarely the case for infectious diseases, it is possible. It is important to speak with your health care provider and disclose that you are breastfeeding when considering treatment options. As not all health care providers are fully informed on human lactation, you may find the following resources helpful in determining treatment options that are safe for breastfeeding and to check a medication’s potential impact on breastmilk supply.

  • LactMed app to look up the compatibility of pharmaceutical treatments with breastfeeding.
  • Infant Risk the leading research for medication safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Sometimes, illness can have an impact on breastfeeding. Some changes to breastfeeding that can happen during an illness of the breastfeeding parent:

  • Low milk supply
  • Milk color changes
  • Increased feedings
  • Decreased feedings
  • Sensitivity
  • Fussy baby at breast
  • Sore nipples

Decreased feeding or pumping, fever, and dehydration can lead to a lower supply of milk. Severe dehydration (such as can happen with gastrointestinal illness) can cause a sudden and drastic drop whereas a slow decrease in milk volume is more typical of illnesses such as the flu. Low supply as a result of dehydration will typically come back quickly with hydration, electrolytes, and rest. Low supply as a result of not fully emptying breasts due to fatigue and other symptoms will take time to rebuild. Low supply as a result of medication side effects usually will begin to recover when the medication is stopped and frequent emptying of the breast increases.

American Academy of Pediatrics breastfeeding through sickness

Recovering Milk Supply Following Illness

If you experience low supply as a result of illness, the best way to increase your supply to meet your baby’s needs is simply to let them breastfeed as often as they are interested in doing so. Complete and frequent draining of the breasts will signal the body to produce more milk. Keeping your baby close and doing skin-to-skin will also help encourage milk production. For lactating parents who pump, adding a 10-20 minute pumping session after several feedings or in between feedings can have the same effect. Don’t be surprise if you pump for 10 minutes immediately following a feeding or even an hour later and get nothing or just a few drops. The stimulation will tell your body to make more milk. It may take several days to see results.

Always be sure to be seen by a qualified health care provider for high fevers, prolonged illness, or severe symptoms.

For further discussion and Q&A on breastfeeding through illness and recovering breastmilk supply following illness, see this video chat with Rene Fisher, IBCLC and Jessica Martin-Weber, The Leaky Boob.

This is general information and does not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. If you have a problem you cannot solve quickly, seek help right away. Every baby is different. If in doubt, contact your physician or healthcare provider.

Mother of 4, Rene Fisher has been an IBCLC since 1998. Rene has worked in private practice before going on to be a hospital Lactation consultant for 10 years where she was responsible for nurses and patient education and hands on assistance with breastfeeding mothers. Rene got started in lactation support as a La Leche League Leader 1993 and became a member of La Leche League Area Professional Liaison Department from 2000 -2010. Today, Rene supports families in reaching their baby feeding goals working with Ameda breastfeeding products.

 

 

Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of BeyondMoi.com, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 7 daughters with her husband of 21 years.
 
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Expert Bra Fitting For Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

by Jessica Martin-Weber with Judy Masucci of Levana Bratique.

This article made possible thanks to the generous support of bravado! Designs.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding can bring a great number of changes to your bust which can make getting a good fit with a bra challenging. Is it possible to get a good fit with all that fluctuating and changes?

I decided to find out and invited bra fitting expert Judy Masucci of Levana Bratique to help me figure out what size and type of bra I needed to be in during pregnancy and what to look for in bras for the changes to come. Judy has fit me 3 times before and every time got me into incredibly comfortable and well fitting bras. I knew I could rely on her again. You can see our video chat here and bullet points on getting a good fit for pregnancy and breastfeeding below.

Judy is a mom who owns and operates the bra boutique Levana Bratique. As a passionate supporter and advocate of breastfeeding, Judy knows first hand the importance of breast health and support in breastfeeding.

That passion led her to start virtual bra fittings because many don’t have a place to go get fitted locally and that could make it difficult for ordering online. She says: “I started this service to help women figure out what size they are, especially when you’re breastfeeding because your bra size changes, your body changes – even if you knew your size before your got pregnant, you don’t know your size anymore. It can be hard to figure out when you’re all alone and you don’t have someplace to go to get measured in person.” If you’re interested in a virtual fitting, go here and here

Good to know

Judy explained a few points about bra sizing and fitting that are just good to know and keep in mind when bra shopping.

  • Most women are wearing the wrong size bra. Limited options may lead to women being in the wrong size. Judy explained that this happens even when you go in person and get fitted because you go to a place that doesn’t carry your size and and instead of telling “hey we don’t have the size you should be but we don’t carry that, you should go someplace else” they try to fit you in a bra that they have. They actually do you a disservice because they end up putting you in a band that’s too big and a cup that’s too small and all you are is uncomfortable and unsupported.
  • Put your bra on correctly! There’s an art to putting your bra on. Try the “Swoop and Tuck” method for a better fit (find it here). Check your band too, if it is too high in the back your bra can feel too tight while not giving the support you need. Try pulling down the back of the band and see how that adjusts your fit.
  • With breastfeeding, improper fit can be more than uncomfortable, it can lead to clogs, mastitis, and neck and back pain. You need a well-fitting bra especially during breastfeeding for your breast health and even for reaching your breastfeeding goals.

Bra Fitting

So how do you get a good fit? Judy walked me through the process of measuring myself in the steps below.

  • Wear your most comfortable bra (for me that was the Bravado! Body Silk Seamless).
  • Use a flexible measuring tape.
  • Take 3 measurements: with arms down take a snug measurement parallel to the floor, just above your breasts; with arms down take a snug measurement parallel to the floor just under your breasts; with arms down take a loose measurement at the widest part of your bust. See this guide and calculate your rough measurement by subtracting the measurement of the fullest part of your bust from the above the chest measurement. (This is just to give you a starting point, your most comfortable bra may end up being a different size!)
  • Try on different bras in different styles.
  • Underwires shouldn’t be on your breast tissue at all.

The bra fitting, as you can see, is not a science, it’s more of an art. Judy asks questions such as What’s your best fitting bra? What size is it? And how does it fit you? There’s more to a good fit than your measurements and a specific number.

Bra Selection For Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Measure and get fitted in person or virtually. But understand that there can be a lot of changes in your future still.
  • Look for a flexible fitting bra. Your breasts make more glandular tissue with each pregnancy so your breasts are changing every pregnancy. Once baby is born and milk production ramps up, they’ll likely change again and may continue to do so through out your breastfeeding journey. Flexible fitting bras (like the Bravado! Body Silk Seamless) without underwire can fit more cup sizes allowing for these changes.
  • Consider extenders for better fit in pregnancy. A lot of women will find that their bras feel too tight during pregnancy, because their rib cage is expanding and their belly is pushing out on their bra band. If your cup size hasn’t changed yet, but your band size has changed, then you can just use an extender on your bra to make it more comfortable.
  • Wait to see how your breasts change. With an extender you may be able to continue using the bras you already have and just wait to make your investment. When you go from pregnancy to breastfeeding there’s absolutely no way to predict how large your breasts might get. Some women don’t change at all. Some women go up one cup size. Some women go up 4 cup sizes. Even if you’ve had previous babies, it’s can be different with every baby. Give it 6 weeks to regulate or you may end up needing a completely different size later.
  • You don’t have to rule out underwire bras for breastfeeding. Just be sure that the underwire is not pressing on any breast tissue including on the side under your arm as that can compress milk ducts and potentially cause mastitis. The underwire bras for nursing, such as the Belle Underwire Nursing Bra from Bravado actually have flexible underwire and that underwire is less risk for your milk ducts. Even with a flexible underwire, you’re putting something into the bra that is restricting the movement of the cup. Judy recommends waiting until after the baby comes, about 6 weeks postpartum before getting something with an underwire because by the time 6 weeks comes you go up and then you come down a little bit, and then your milk regulates and so you’re about at the size that you’re going to be for the duration of your breastfeeding.
  • Even wireless bras that are too tight can cause issues. An ill-fitting bra that compresses breast tissue rather than support it can lead to reduced supply, clogged ducts, mastitis, and more.

Avoid these common bra mistakes when breastfeeding

  • Wrong size. Proper fit matters!
  • Only having one bra. The recommendation is that you have a minimum of 3 bras, and don’t wear the same bra more than one day at a time. Rotate them and they will last longer. This applies to non-breastfeeding moms too.
  • Sleeping in your daytime bra. Use a sleep bra. It should be only enough support to keep a breast pad in place and sleeping in a daytime bra can cause problems.

 

Judy Masucci is a Ph.D. Scientist turned bra fitting guru. She lives in Wexford, PA just north of Pittsburgh, where she operates the region’s only specialty bra boutique, Levana Bratique. Judy has been fitting women in great bras for over 10 years, both virtually and in person. She specializes in hard to find sizes, carrying over 150 different sizes of bras. Often referred to as the “bra whisperer,” Judy has made it her mission to change women’s lives- one bra at a time.

 

Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of BeyondMoi.com, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 7 daughters with her husband of 21 years.
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