Breastfeeding Confession: I don’t love breastfeeding

by Jessica Martin-Weber

This post made possible by the support of EvenFlo Feeding

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As I was nearing the end of my pregnancy with Sugarbaby, now 4, I had noticed a few women commenting online that they hated breastfeeding or at least didn’t love it. Not that they were stopping or refused to do it but that they didn’t have any of the warm fuzzy feelings they’d heard others talk about and they were looking forward to experiencing themselves. Often with their confession came the question: “does this make me a bad mom?”

My heart ached with them. I had felt the same.

I watched as some people responded making suggestions as to how they could maybe enjoy the experience more, or how it may take some time to get to that place, some sharing how much they love breastfeeding and are sorry the poster didn’t, and sometimes a few responding that they could relate. These women would respond that they were really struggling or felt broken, or questioned that maybe they didn’t love their child enough and that there was something wrong with them.

And again my heart ached with them.

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I was 35 weeks pregnant that week, preparing for a new nursling. Expecting baby #6, I was fairly confident that everything would be fine with breastfeeding. Not overly so, as I know each breastfeeding experience is different but there was no doubt in my mind that I’d be breastfeeding and that if there were any challenges we’d be able to work through them with our incredible support system. Still, there was this tiny part of me that wasn’t really looking forward to it. Maybe even dreading it a little. Which is almost heresy coming from the person that started The Leaky Boob.

Feeling for those women struggling I posted this status update on The Leaky B@@b Facebook page: 

“I don’t *love* breastfeeding. Nope, I don’t. It doesn’t give me warm, fuzzy feelings. I don’t look forward to sitting down with my nursling. I don’t particularly care for the sensation. But I breastfeed and I actively advocate and educate about breastfeeding. Why? Because I believe it’s the biologically normal way to feed a human infant. I don’t see myself as a martyr, just doing what I need to do to care for my children. I also don’t think this makes my a bad mom any more than the fact that sometimes I really hate making dinner. Or breakfast. Or lunch. Or changing diapers and doing laundry. What about you? Anyone else not “love” breastfeeding? What’s your breastfeeding confession?”

Responses started pouring in and in less than an hour there were close to 200 comments. The first 20 or so comments (I didn’t count, it could be a dozen or 50) are either people sharing they can relate, thanking me for such an honest confession because they felt less alone or freakish, sharing that it’s a love/hate relationship for them, the random “don’t like seeing people breastfeeding in public” (what’s that doing there?), the super excited ones that LOVE it and can’t relate, and the true confession of wanting to go out drinking (one brave soul shared that). Most of the 200 responses were from women grateful to hear my confession, thanking me for letting them know they weren’t alone and weren’t a bad mom for having these feelings. Then came the handful of comments saying that status was terrible and would discourage moms from breastfeeding. A few said that if they had seen that post when they were first breastfeeding and things were rough it would have made them want to quit. They asserted that we shouldn’t lie but we have to be selective with our words so as not to scare someone off. A few came down hard saying they were disappointed to see a post like that on TLB and called into question if I really support breastfeeding with posts like that.

I told my #4 nursling at the time that I didn’t like breastfeeding. Apologizing that I was gritting my teeth through her nursing sessions, I stroked her cheek and told her that even though I didn’t love breastfeeding I did very much love her and so she was worth it. Too young to understand, I felt my little girl sleeping in my arms and my chest tightened as the truth of my love for her surged through me making it hard to breathe. In that moment I vowed that even if I never loved breastfeeding I would focus on how much I love my daughter while she’s at my breast and I could take pleasure in how much she enjoyed breastfeeding even if I didn’t personally enjoy it.

Going into breastfeeding my 6th baby, my feelings about breastfeeding had changed, the skin-crawling, teeth gritting feeling was gone and while I still couldn’t say that I personally loved it I truly and deeply loved how much my baby loves to breastfeed. As her mother, there is an expansive satisfaction in making her happy that overwhelms even my own discomfort. She went on to breastfeed for 4 years and no, I don’t regret doing so. I don’t see myself as a martyr, just as a mother who, like most parents, has to give up some of my own personal comfort for a time for the benefit of my child. Though I’m not breastfeeding now, when I was, when my baby would grin up at me briefly letting go of my nipple, a little dribble of milk coursing down her cheek, I feel privileged to share and be the source of this moment she enjoyed so much. I will continue to support and advocate for breastfeeding and I will continue being honest about my own breastfeeding journey and feelings because in the long run we all need the kind of support to be who we really are if we’re going to grow.

I followed up with this that day on Facebook: (edited here)

“So sometimes breastfeeding isn’t an amazing experience, sometimes it is. We can be honest about our feelings with ourselves and with others and need to have safe places to do so. If that’s announcing loving the experience or sharing that it’s a struggle not enjoyed, it’s important to have that place. Even for me. Being brave enough to be honest enough to admit the hard stuff is where true support is found. When I first started breastfeeding and hated it deeply it wasn’t helpful to only hear how wonderful it was for everyone else. I needed to hear a balance of the good, the bad, and the ugly. I didn’t believe anyone actually enjoyed it, they just said they did it because it was expected. Today, 6 nurslings later, I’ve learned that it’s complicated and that’s ok. Everyone’s experience is different and nobody should have to hide it because what we need is to be honest, supportive, and real. Some things are going to encourage you, some are going to discourage you, either way, own YOUR experience.”

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What about you? Have you had times where even if everything was working fine, you just didn’t enjoy breastfeeding? Why do you continue?

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Jessica Martin-Weber

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, and creator and author of the children’s book and community of What Love Tastes Like, supporter of A Girl With A View, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. She co-parents her 6 daughters with her husband of 19 years and is currently writing her first creative non-fiction book.
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The Joy of Giving 2016

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Everyone loves a good giveaway. They’re fun, enticing, and full of hopeful anticipation. Here at TLB we take delight in working with brands that care so much about quality, families, support, and seeing babies well fed. These companies not only see our community as a valuable resource for them, but each brand we work with is carefully vetted, selected for their commitment to value supporting families. With them, TLB gets to regularly experience the joy of giving to families through our giveaways and community support.

Which is why this holiday season we are extending the reach of that giving. The Joy of Giving giveaway brings together 32 brands that truly know the meaning of the joy of giving. With three different bundles (totaling $4306), one lucky winner will have the chance to give as well by selecting two of their friends that could use a little holiday cheer, and they will each receive a bundle!

But that’s not all. Not only are we offering this giveaway and giving you a chance to give, every item being given away in the Joy of Giving giveaway is also being donated to a nonprofit organization that supports families. And we need your help!  There are so many amazing nonprofits out there that we struggled to select just 5 of them for this opportunity, and it’s up to you to make the final selection. We are including a short description for each of the 5 organizations with a link to their website in case you would like to learn more about them. Once you’re ready, cast your vote for your favorite in the poll just under the descriptions! Our hope is that they will inspire us all to find new ways to give this season. Even a warm smile can lift a person’s spirits.

 

Happy Holidays, and good luck!

 

Everyday Miracles is built on the belief that every woman has a right to evidence-based prenatal care; that every woman should be empowered, supported and celebrated during pregnancy, birth and postpartum—regardless of age, race, or socioeconomic status. The work they do is inspired by the commitment, resilience and strength we see in the moms we serve every single day. Their mission is to improve birth outcomes and reduce health disparities by providing evidence-based education, compassionate and culturally competent support and a non-judgemental, caring community. Find them on Facebook.

Mothers Helping Mothers is a refuge in which Teens in need of support and guidance can receive mentoring and educational encouragement that offers empowerment in such a way that it promotes positive self-esteem while enhancing teen parenting skills. Serving teen mothers in the Columbus, OH area in need of a loving and nurturing environment during their time of pregnancy and beyond in both emotional and physical ways. Find them on Facebook.

Pittsburgh Black Breastfeeding Circle (PBBC), aims to reduce racial disparities in breastfeeding by protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding as the cultural norm and optimal feeding method for mothers and babies of African Descent in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. Their mission also includes providing culturally relevant breastfeeding, parenting, and nutrition education and information in a supportive group environment. The PBBC facilitates community learning with maternal child health and lactation specialists and experts; in addition to the development of peer leadership. Find them on Facebook.

The Carrying On Project provides carriers and more to low income and struggling military families to help encourage and facilitate bonding for service members who spend extended amount of time away from their children because of deployments, trainings, and other duties of service, as well as help the caregiver at home by providing them a way to snuggle and comfort the children who are left behind with a focus on families who are brand new to the military or our veterans who are awaiting medical support or compensation, including those living in halfway houses and group housing. They also work with veteran families, some who are left unemployable due to injuries, TBIs or PTSD, and more. Serving nearly 8000 families since their inception, collaborating with other organizations, TCOP distributes items for charity baby showers and need-based to help families that apply and need extra services. In addition to baby carriers, TCOP has supplied families requiring extra assistance with diapers, clothing, blankets, breastfeeding supplies, teething items, bottles, pacifiers, and more. Find them on Facebook.

Wichita Treehouse women come to The Treehouse as referrals from other social service agencies in Wichita. These moms have given birth in difficult circumstances, and have material, emotional, and spiritual needs. The Treehouse provides moms with: Parenting education, One-time free distribution of basic infant necessities (for eligible mothers), Thrift store (newborn to 16 youth clothing, basic supplies for infants and toddlers, etc. credit earned by taking classes), Extra assistance (up to 2 times a year for diapers or formula). The Treehouse continues to be able to serve moms and babies because of  financial, material, volunteer resources, and prayer from the entire Wichita community. Find them on Facebook. 

Prize bundle #1:

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Prize Bundle #1 Total Value: $583

You! Lingerie: Isis Blue Maternity and Nursing Set$50 value
Truly Irresistible! Fall in love with this smooth vivid blue color nursing bra featuring a seductive touch of lace, a true definition of ‘Luxurious!’ The gorgeously molded nursing bra is a great choice during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Lined with our signature Hot Pink 100% cotton for maximum comfort. Embellished with our signature Hot Pink satin bows. It comes with a matching brief microfiber with a touch of lace in vivid blue for a gorgeous YOU!

Smart BottomsConvertible Flannel Nursing Scarf, $39 value
Made with cozy flannel fabric, this scarf will quickly become your favorite cold-weather accessory! Snaps enable you to customize your coverage and compliment your outfit.

MommyCon: General Admission, $45 value
General admission to any 2017 MommyCon event.

Mollys SudsLiquid Laundry Detergent, $17 value
This free and clear, unscented formula is perfect for those with allergies and sensitive skin and it is baby laundry safe. You can count the number of ingredients on both hands – it does not contain the long list of harsh chemicals found in conventional brands. 50 loads, 50 FL OZ, Ultra-Concentrated. Works in all machines, including HE, and safe for septic systems. Work in all water temperatures, and hard/soft water.

Carriwell: Seamless GelWire Nursing Bra$50 value
The healthiest, supportive nursing bra ever made, the incredibly flexible Gelwire gives you the support you desire while still being soft and comfortable to wear. The Carriewell GelWire is the healthy option when you need support in your nursing bra and is approved by lactation consultants.

Nurture-Elle: Pleated Short Sleeve Top, $45 value
The graceful pleats are excellent at hiding the tummy and the slimming effects of the long sleeves will boost your confidence! Wearable during pregnancy as well. The subtle elastic band along the bottom of the shirt structures the top so as to add style, not volume.
Opening: SIDE SEAM ACCESS: To access the right breast, simply move the front fabric to the left and move to the right the inner layer. To access the left breast, simply move the front fabric to the right and move to the left the inner layer.
* All our breastfeeding fashions are created with a woman’s post-partum shape in mind. We have customized the bust lines to be 1 to 2 cup sizes larger.

Crane: Owl Humidifier$50 value
Crane ultrasonic cool mist humidifier provides up to 24 hours of whisper quiet mist to relieve stuffy noses, dry skin, dry cough and overall cold/flu symptoms. Does not require a filter.

Make My Belly Fit: Jacket Extender, $86 value
Babies bring change. Your jacket doesn’t have to! The BellyFit is an award-winning jacket extender for maternity and baby-wearing. It simply extends your own jacket.

BelabumbumDottie Nursing Pajama Set, $79 value
Belabumbum’s sweet and soft polka dot print pajama set includes a camisole with underbust pull-up nursing access and adjustable straps and a flattering pant with soft flat elastic waistband in 100% pima cotton jersey with lace trim.

MoveMamíNursing Sports Bra, $50 value
SHINE in the most comfortable and supportive nursing bra. MOVEMAMÍ is highly recommended by mothers and midwives around the world. Supportive, comfortable and stylish – the SHINE breastfeeding sports bra is designed to support a mother’s ever-changing body, both during and post-pregnancy. Each MOVEMAMÍ nursing bra comes with a pair of innovative BAMBOOB breast pads.

Preggo LeggingsBlack Out Moto Leggings, $50 value
Rock this biker inspired Black Out Moto Maternity Leggings and you’ll instantly look like a badass preggo babe. They are super comfy too with an adjustable waist and ribbed stretch cotton over the bump panels. Your ultimate go-to fashion maternity leggings that you can easily dress up or down with a tee or your favorite top.

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Prize bundle #2:

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Prize Bundle #2 Total Value: $626

Ameda: Purely Yours Ultra Pump$299 value
Our Purely Yours Ultra Double Electric Breast Pump is a closed-system, single-user pump intended to help mothers to safely and effectively express and store her milk when she is unable to nurse directly. The Ultra has updated features including larger, easy-to-use control dials and an easy-to-clean exterior finish.

Glamourmom: Nursing Bra Full Bust Long Top, $59 value
Full structured built-in nursing bra into a long tank top that supports up to a J cup.

Woolino: 4 Season Basic Baby Sleeping Bag, $70 value
Woolino’s award winning 4 Season Basic Merino Wool Baby Sleep Bag will keep baby at a perfect temperature all year round. It is made of the finest Australian merino wool that is silky soft, hypoallergenic, and it has an unmatched ability to regulate baby’s body temperature. That means there’s no need to worry about which weight sleep sack to use, or whether your baby will be too hot or cold while sleeping – they’ll always be just right!

KangaCare: Rumparooz Diaper, $24 value
One diaper. 4 sizes. Fits babies 6-35+ lbs
The award winning Rumparooz One Size Cloth Pocket Diaper has been a revolutionary change to the face of cloth diapering. Kanga Care brand cloth diapers were the first cloth diapers uniquely designed with the now patented leak protection technology of dual inner gussets. Designed with simplicity, Rumparooz are as easy to use as a disposable diaper, but without all the chemicals, waste and high cost. The Rumparooz One Size Cloth Pocket Diaper is 4 diapers sizes in ONE diaper. The Rumparooz will fit most babies at any size between birth (size newborn, 6 lbs) up through potty training (size large, 35+ lbs). Each diaper comes with a microfiber 6r soaker. This unique soaker has 6 different size and absorbency settings to customize for your babies needs.

The Dairy Fairy: Ayla Pumping Bra, $54 value
A beautiful, comfortable and functional bra for the multitasking mom. Lacy and supportive, definitely not your granny-bra.

Twin Z: The One Z Pillow$60 value
One Z Pillow is a nursing pillow fantastic integrated back support that allows moms to nurse for hours a day in complete comfort. The One Z Pillow uses also include Tummy Time, Bottle Feeding, Support and Play Time!

Phoenix BabyGoTo 2-in-1 Infant Car Seat and Travel High Chair$60 value
The GoTo2-in-1 is the first adaptive system that allows parents to safely, cleanly and comfortably provide baby a safe spot at home and on the go. Designed with wide legs for stability, a safety lock to hold infant car seats in place, and mesh pockets to conveniently store feeding essentials, the GoTo 2-in-1 is a perfect alternative to a restaurant high chair or placing an infant car seat on a raised surface. With the 2-in-1, parents can safely keep baby up and away from pets, dirt and floor drafts. The 2-in-1 is tall enough to feed baby at a table and conveniently folds compactly for storage and travel.
Once a child is out of an infant car seat, the 2-in-1 can be used as a high chair, including a full 5-point safety harness. It comes with a case and easily fits in a car trunk or an overhead storage rack for easy travel.

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Prize bundle #3:

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Prize Bundle #3 Total Value: $733

Twin Z: Sleep Z Pillow$50 value
Toddler/Kid Body Pillow for children ages 3 and up that helps your child fall asleep by surrounding them with comfort. Results in less middle of the night waking!

Nurture-Elle: Pleated Short Sleeve Top$45 value
The graceful pleats are excellent at hiding the tummy and the slimming effects of the long sleeves will boost your confidence! Wearable during pregnancy as well. The subtle elastic band along the bottom of the shirt structures the top so as to add style, not volume.
Opening: SIDE SEAM ACCESS: To access the right breast, simply move the front fabric to the left and move to the right the inner layer. To access the left breast, simply move the front fabric to the right and move to the left the inner layer.

ThinkBaby: BPA Free Feeding Set, $40 value
Free of Bisphenol-A (BPA), phthalates, nitrosamines, lead, PVC, PET,  Melamine and biologically harmful chemicals.The Complete BPA Free set contains: bento box, soup bowl, baby bowl, and a kids cup.
Made from highly sustainable materials.

MommyCon: Smash the Patriarchy T-shirt, $20 value
On Wednesdays We Smash the Patriarchy and invite you to join us by wearing this 100% cotton, heathery gray shirt in ia classic, unisex crewneck.

KangaCareLil Learnerz Training Pants$28 value
Lil Learnerz are here to help your toddler hit the next milestone – potty training! When your little one is ready to leave the diapers behind but still needs help and protection, Lil Learnerz will become that essential aid. Lil Learnerz look like big kid underwear and come in multiple fun prints and vibrant color combinations. Lil Learnerz are made with IMWET TECHNOLOGY™! This feature lets your toddler feel wet when they have had an accident. This helps them learn more about their body and aids in the potty learning process. Lil Learnerz are breathable and soft with a hypoallergenic layer that rests against your child’s skin. Lil Learnerz are also waterproof and can hold a heavy accident with no trouble. The inside is made up of an absorbent, dual layer, microfiber core. Lil Learnerz are easy to pull up and down by your little learner! Just like real underwear! Lil Learnerz are available in five sizes ranging from Extra Small to Extra Large. The Extra Small and Small sizes also feature side snapping release panels for easy-off in case of accidents with early learners.

Chimparoo: Soft Structured Baby Carrier, value $206
The Chimparoo TREK is the contemporary of the woven wrap, designed for those who desire an ergonomic and supportive soft structured carrier. Sporty and chic, down to earth and sophisticated, this carrier is for men and women with refined tastes, the nature lovers and the trend-seekers. It can hold up to 45 lbs and is easy to handle.

Ameda: Purely Yours Ultra Pump$299 value
Our Purely Yours Ultra Double Electric Breast Pump is a closed-system, single-user pump intended to help mothers to safely and effectively express and store her milk when she is unable to nurse directly. The Ultra has updated features including larger, easy-to-use control dials and an easy-to-clean exterior finish.

Snugabell: PumpEase Hands-Free Pumping Bra, $38 value
PumpEase holds your breast pump flanges securely in place so you can read, text, eat, email, care for your child, or just relax while you pump your breastmilk – hands-free! You don’t need to fuss with awkward straps or adjustments; PumpEase is easy to use and looks great for moms who aren’t willing to forgo fashion for function.

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joy-of-giving-everything-included

Every bundle includes (Total Value: $784):

Snuggle Me: Organic Cosleeper$140 value
USA Made Organic Cosleeping Infant Lounger for Babies. It is slightly raised and unpadded, which means when baby is laid on top of the cushion, the sides will gently pull in to give baby the sensation of being held.

Anna NaturalsBoobie Basket$33 value
The Boobie Basket includes all your nursing necessities – Nursing Mama herbal tea, All Smiles Aromatherapy Mist, and Nursing Mama Nipple Cream.

The Baby Booster: Baby Booster, $36 value
A lifestyle solution that helps support a breastfeeding mom’s daily diet.

Wear PACT: Camisole/Leggings/Hoodie, $100 value
All PACT apparel are super soft, sweatshop free, ethically produced, and part of a movement transforming the way apparel is made. Sure they’re (comfy, amazing) clothes, but they’re more than clothes. They’re an impetus for the best kind of change.

Lake Champlain ChocolatesPeppermint Hot Chocolate$12 value
Make it a merry and minty Christmas! This is holiday hot chocolate the way it should be — a refreshing blend of rich cocoa and cool peppermint, with hints of vanilla and cinnamon. Just the thing to warm everyone up!

MomzelleNursing Top$69 value
The cutest and most comfortable nursing hoodie on the market! Stay warm while nursing your little one. This lightweight hoodie offers easy and discreet nursing access and comes in four great colour combinations.

My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear: Gray Love Bear$40 value
The Gray Love Bear recordable stuffed animal kit includes a fluffy, gray-colored teddy bear, an attached 3×5″ yellow frame that holds your ultrasound photo, and a recorder to capture the sound of your baby’s heartbeat during an ultrasound. The gray Bear is 13” long, perfect snuggle size. My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear kits make excellent baby shower gifts or pregnancy keepsakes. Also available at many 3D/4D ultrasound studios. Patent pending.

SpectraS2 Breast Pump$250 value
Spectra S2 Single/Double Closed System Hospital Strength Electric Breast Pump. Includes back flow protection, hospital strength suction, single or double electric, nightlight, timer, adjustable settings, quiet, lightweight at 3.3lbs, dual voltage, stylish, and comfortable. This pumps suckling action helps moms initiate, increase, and maintain a milk supply.

Belibea: Nourish Cami$60 value
Made for the flexibility of a modern mom, our seamless stretch-knit Nourish Cami provides the convenience of wearing ONE garment whether nursing, pumping or reveling in the sweet moments in between.

Itzy Ritzy: Infinity Breastfeeding Scarf$25 value
Everyday scarf that is convenient to wear and use when nursing. Allows maintained eye contact and airflow for your baby. Cotton and polyester jersey knit blend with finished edges!

Luna Pads: Performa Lunapads$19 value
Performa is a brand new approach to washable menstrual pads. Featuring high-tech fabrics that absorb three times as much fluid than a regular disposable pad or tampon, Performa is the eco-friendly option for a more comfortable period.

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Good luck to everyone!  Please use the widget below to be entered.  The giveaway is open from December 11, 2016 through December 21, 2016.  A big thanks to all of the sponsors who generously demonstrated their compassion for people by participating in this giveaway.  Their support of TLB, and all breastfeeding women, and beyond, is invaluable; don’t hesitate to visit them on social media and thank them for their support of TLB and this giveaway opportunity.

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Weaning Off Formula back to Exclusively Breastfeeding

by Shari Criso MSN, RC, CNM, IBCLC

This post made possible by the support of EvenFlo Feeding

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“Supplementation with formula does not have to be the end of breastfeeding and it may be very possible to transition to exclusively breastfeeding if that is your goal.”

First of all Amy, great job at making it to the 8 week mark! It is a big deal and something to be very proud of. From your questions it is clear that you’re just about exclusively breastfeeding but now we need to help you over that last hump.

What I tell all my clients is that if all you’re supplementing is 1-2 feedings per day of formula and breastfeeding the rest of the time, then in most cases you probably don’t need to do any at all! It is obvious that your body is quite capable of producing adequate amounts of breastmilk, however the continued supplementation will not give your body the opportunity to catch up. What you need to do is feed a little more frequently so that your body can kick inn and start to make more.

If all you’re doing is one or two supplemented feedings a days and your baby is gaining weight adequately, I would immediately start cutting out formula supplementation and begin to encourage your body to make more milk. Those few ounces that you have been supplementing can usually be made of with more frequent feeding or were not really necessary anyway, as many supplemented babies are over fed and encouraged to gain weight faster than they need to.

Typically, it is when I see moms that have been supplementing for weeks and weeks with very little breastfeeding that I am more concerned about the status of their milk supply and the need to build that up slowly by cutting back formula supplement slowly over time with careful evaluation throughout.

However, for you Amy, what I would recommend is to stop the supplementation, increase the frequency of your feedings, allow your baby to stay on the breast longer, drain the breast completely by switching sides multiple times during a feeding (feed both sides and then return to the first side again), do lots of skin to skin and wear your baby as much as you can, and basically let the baby guide you right now.

As for how hungry he is, treat it as a growth spurt. In my online breastfeeding program “Simply Breastfeeding,” I have an entire chapter on growth spurts and what to do when your breastfed baby is going through one. These are times during the breastfeeding journey when you actually are not making enough and it is very NORMAL! These are times when you baby is growing and your body is attempting to catch up with your baby’s needs for more milk. The only way that it can do that is to respond to your baby’s signal of hunger, which is what happens when they start feeding very frequently. During these times, allowing your baby to nurse as long as they want and as often as they want for a few days is the answer. With frequent and “on demand” feedings, your body will kick in very quickly and start to get the message, “Oh…MAKE MORE MILK!”

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Regardless of the reason in the beginning or whether the initial supplementation may or may not have been necessary, it does not mean that you need to continue doing it indefinitely. For most mothers it is a lack of understanding about how much their baby’s need to be eating, how much and how fast they need to be gaining, and how the body responds and makes more milk that causes them to continue to supplement unnecessarily and eventually add more formula which further decreases their breast milk supply. What may start off as a true need under certain circumstances is then replaced with an issue that has been unknowingly created and unnecessarily continued.

Another important thing to understand is that babies should not be weighed weekly. This is huge! When moms and dads ask me, “How much should a baby be gaining every week?” The answer I give is somewhere between 4-8 ounces per week on average. The key point here being, ON AVERAGE. That means, under normal circumstances you are not bringing your baby in every single week to weighed. This is because one week you may only have a weight gain of 2 ounces and you are going to think something is wrong. Then the next week your baby is going to gain 10 ounces cause they had a growth spurt. This is why weighing your baby every week and monitoring so closely can cause you to think your baby is not growing appropriately and cause unnecessary supplementation.

The best way to monitor that your baby is doing well is to keep watching for those wet and poopy diapers, looking out for all the signs that I talk about in my DVD program on how to make sure your baby is getting enough milk, and weighing your baby monthly.

So after a month’s time you’ll go back to weigh the baby, you divide that gain by four weeks, and now you can say to yourself, “Okay, did they gain somewhere between 4-8 ounces a week on average?” If the answer is yes then you’re pretty much in the right spot. Babies grow at their own pace and we cannot be too rigid with this. Breastmilk is just too important to sacrifice that quickly. Just as a baby that truly needs to be supplemented must be addressed and few for their well being, your breastmilk supply and breastfeeding relationship is critical to their short and long term health and must also be protected and supported appropriately.

I recommend that you go back and watch my program and pay particular attention to the chapter on growth spurts. Work with your pediatrician and treat this time just like you would a normal growth spurt. With the right support, patience and understanding of what is normal, I believe you will be on your way to exclusively breastfeeding your little one in no time!

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Find more from Shari supporting your parenting journey including infant feeding on Facebook, or her classes at My Baby Experts©

Thanks for EvenFlo Feeding, Inc.’s generous support for families in the their feeding journey.

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Shari Criso 2016

For over 23 years, Shari Criso has been a Registered Nurse, Certified Nurse Midwife, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, nationally recognized parenting educator, entrepreneur, and most importantly, loving wife and proud mother of two amazing breastfed daughters. You can find her on Facebook or her own personal site.
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Seven Points To Know About Breastmilk Supply Issues

By Jessica Martin-Weber

This post is generously made possible by Bamboobies

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For the most part, if you decide to breastfeed, the experience will be: have boobs, feed baby. A process that has worked long enough to get us to this point in civilization, as mammals, generally speaking we will produce enough milk for our young. If everything is working normally, our breasts are going to make the milk our babies need. Lactating after giving birth is, for our species, normal, like breathing.

Which is well and good. But for as normal as it all may be sometimes there are issues with breathing and sometimes there are issues with lactation. Sometimes those issues are related to milk supply.

Before you worry about it or before you tell someone else to worry about it or not to worry about it, there are a few things that may be helpful to know. This is all just the tip of the iceberg, we’ll have more on this topic in the future but for now this is just a quick overview of breastmilk supply issues and not intended to be health care or replace medical care. If you are experiencing any problems with your supply, please see your healthcare provider and an experienced, professional skilled breastfeeding helper.

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1. Supply issues are real. Though biologically speaking it is normal to produce milk for our young, the fact is some will experience issues with supply. While they aren’t as common as it may seem, supply issues aren’t made up, they really do happen. Dismissing the concerns about supply can actually cause more supply problems as it may lead to feelings of isolation, failure, pain, grief, anger, and depression. If someone is concerned about their breastmilk supply, getting help is the right thing to do. They may discover that there is no evidence of supply issues and they can let go of their worry or they may find there is in fact a problem and take steps to address it to adequately care for their child(ren).

2. There is more than one type of supply issue. Often when talking about supply issues people assume it is low supply or not producing enough milk. Low supply is indeed a very concerning issue but it isn’t the only supply issue that may be experienced. Pumping supply, oversupply, and temporary supply issues (ovulation/period, illness, pregnancy, separation, etc.) are other supply issues that may present challenges for breastfeeding families. From poor weight gain to recurring mastitis to not reaching breastfeeding goals, the effects of supply issues cover a wide range and all of them matter.

3. Don’t borrow supply issue trouble. Yes, supply issues are real but before stressing about or trying to fix a supply issue, it is important to know if there is one (see related: Help, My Milk Supply Is Low, Or Is It?). This can be difficult to do if we don’t understand normal human lactation or normal baby behavior. For example, if you heard that I was pumping up to 24 ounce every pumping session at one point and you pumped 1-4 ounces in a session, you may think you have low supply (tip: this wouldn’t mean you have low supply- this means I had oversupply, one I manufactured to pump enough to skim the fat off to feed my very sick baby with two holes in her heart). Or if you found that your baby was extremely fussy and wanting to breastfeed every 30 minutes suddenly and you didn’t know what cluster feeding was and that it was common for babies to increase their feeding sessions during times of rapid growth, you may fear that your breasts suddenly weren’t making enough milk. Understanding the range of normal in human lactation is crucial!

4. There are multiple reasons for supply issues. Physiologically speaking, most breasts should have everything necessary to make plenty of milk (statistically less than 2% of breasts are equipped for adequate milk production) though there are some theories that this number is increasing. But a lack of milk making tissue isn’t the only cause of low supply. Other reasons for low supply include, but are not limited to, fluids in labor, tongue tie (frenulum restriction), high palate, hormone imbalance, diabetes, gut health, scheduled feedings, retained placenta, excessive pumping, ineffective sucking, health issues, some medication, early sleeping through the night, and the list goes on.

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5. Supply issues can create other issues. Yes, even perceived supply issues can create other issues. Confirmed supply issues even more so. Postpartum depression, anxiety, mastitis, gas, poor weight gain, breast tissue damage, unwanted and unnecessary supplementing, early weaning from the breast, etc. Those encountering issues with supply need more support and care on both a social level and from health care professionals.

6. Supply issues aren’t all doom and gloom. For starters, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing when it comes to feeding our babies. There are ways to address supply issues including methods to boost supply, supplement at the breast, train baby to suck more effectively, and reducing oversupply. Identifying the type of supply issue, the cause, and then the most effective methods for improving the supply issue (i.e. skin-to-skin helps low supply, decreasing pumping duration and frequency helps oversupply, hands-on-breast compressions and proper flange sizes can help pumping low supply, and magnesium can help temporary low supply caused by fertility cycles) along with supplementing techniques to encourage breastfeeding (i.e. paced feeding and at the breast supplementing) may all work together to turn things around.

7. There is support for supply issues. I often hear from breastfeeders with supply issues that they feel broken and alone. Supply issues can directly impact a parent’s confidence, causing them to question their competency in parenting when the most elemental aspect of parenting, feeding the child, is so difficult and overwhelming for them. While it can feel lonely when you’re dealing with supply issues, we don’t have to be alone. From social media groups to in person breastfeeding support groups to specialized breastfeeding helpers in the healthcare field, there is support for those experiencing supply issues. Working with a breastfeeding helper such as an IBCLC may help resolve the issue more quickly.

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Jessica Martin-Weber

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, and creator and author of the children’s book and community of What Love Tastes Like, supporter of A Girl With A View, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. She co-parents her 6 daughters with her husband of 19 years and is currently writing her first creative non-fiction book.

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The Breastfeeding Parent’s Gratitude List

By Jessica Martin-Weber and the Leakies

There are many reasons to be grateful for breastfeeding including ease of access, financial savings (though, let’s be honest, we’re not always saving that much money with breastfeeding), and happy babies. But there are reasons far beyond that. It is always helpful and good for us to cultivate gratitude and with breastfeeding, it can be really easy to do. To help us get started, we asked the followers over on The Leaky Boob Facebook page and The Leaky Boob Facebook Group. Here’s the list we came up with:

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I’m grateful for breastfeeding because it means I have a good excuse to sit down.

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because without it I wouldn’t have an excuse to whip my breasts out around strangers.

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because now I know what it is like to have my chest head butted by a 9 month old.

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because even though I’m fine breastfeeding in front of others, I appreciate the chance to escape to a quiet room every once in awhile to have to feed the baby.

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because it means I have to shop for new clothes that will let me get a boob out.

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I’m grateful for breastfeeding because it means I get extra breaks at work to pump and relax, LOL!

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because I get the chance to cuddle my adventurous kiddo that otherwise doesn’t ever sit still.

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because it guarantees one satisfied family member at meal times!

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because it means I get a break in chasing after the toddler and my partner has to take over while I feed the baby and scroll through Facebook.

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because it is portable and always ready, it’s the perfect food-on-the-go.

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I’m grateful for breastfeeding because having a tiny human being shriek hysterically for me to get my shirt off has made me feel so needed.

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because hooking up to a machine to suck my boobs is just such an unforgettable experience.

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because it means that feeding the baby is one thing that I won’t have to plan while driving 10 hours each way to spend Thanksgiving with family!

I am grateful for breastfeeding because of the meltdowns that I avoided by whispering in my 2 year old’s ear “want some booby?”

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because taking a shower is way more enjoyable than washing extra bottles. Or it would be if I got to take one.

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because with safe cosleeping, I can feed and sleep at the same time.

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I am grateful for breastfeeding because it saves me money so I can buy more wine and brownies.

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because I really am eating for two so a second piece of pie is totally reasonable.

I’m grateful for the terror it saves me of not having to go downstairs in the dark in case there are ghosts.

I’m grateful for being able to breastfeed my children for the fact that I can hold them more them anyone else and make the ‘they are hungry’ excuse if I don’t want someone holding them.

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because it means I (personally) don’t have to drug my toddler when he’s teething. Oxytocin for the win!

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because now I know what it is like to smell like sour milk all day, every day.

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Jessica Martin-Weber

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, and creator and author of the children’s book and community of What Love Tastes Like, supporter of A Girl With A View, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. She co-parents her 6 daughters with her husband of 19 years and is currently writing her first creative non-fiction book.
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Breastfeeding, Your Partner, And Sharing the Journey

by Sarah Saucedo

This post is generously made possible by Bamboobies

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When you are considering breastfeeding your baby, it may seem like it will be a one-woman show. The notion that you will be the sole provider for your new baby’s nutrition may seem a bit overwhelming. However, that doesn’t need to be the case! Your partner can play a key support role in your breastfeeding success.

In the first couple days postpartum, having help to make the most of “lying in” should be a priority. “Lying in” simply means the days or week following delivery where mom and baby should be breastfeeding, bonding, doing skin to skin and little else. Your partner can help make this transition easier with a few simple acts:

  • Make sure any therapy or breastfeeding essentials are within your reach and ready to use (nursing pads, nipple balm, therapy pillows)
    • If using reusable nursing pads – make sure they are clean and ready to go
    • Heating or cooling the therapy pillows depending on your liking
  • Make sure you are hydrated and fed
    • Always have a water bottle on your nightstand
    • Place easy-to-grab snacks like protein bars or fruits that don’t need to be refrigerated, like bananas and oranges, within your reach
  • Help with any pain medications or dressings that you may have from your delivery; this can be a big help-especially if you had a cesarean or particularly hard labor.

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Once you are comfortable enough to move around the house more, there are plenty of ways that your partner can still be helpful and supportive in your breastfeeding journey. Here are a few:

  • Stock a nursing station or stations in you favorite spot(s), so you have what you need when you need it. Snacks, wipes, burp clothes, a full water battle, nursing pads and something entertaining, like a good book or magazine are essentials. Fueling you body and mind while the little one eats is multitasking at its finest.
  • Use a bottle to feed baby pumped breastmilk. This can give you some time to take that much needed shower, read a book, or even sleep if your partner is able to pick up a night feeding. It may seem trivial but these little acts of self-care go a long way in the postpartum period.
  • Clean the pump parts and bottles (they add up!)

Having your partner’s support doesn’t need to stop when you venture out of the house, either! Your partner can be just as involved in your breastfeeding journey whether out to eat, shopping, or at a sporting event.

  • Provide emotional support when you need it. It can be a huge boost to your confidence! Knowing that they support you and your breastfeeding journey can be the key to making a possibly anxious situation (like your first time out of the house) as smooth as possible.
  • Check to make sure the diaper bag is fully stocked with all your favorite breastfeeding supplies (pads, nipple balm, and nursing shawl) and whatever baby needs is also helpful. Don’t forget an extra diaper or two and a change of clothes for baby. You might want an extra shirt, too, just in case!

Bringing a new life into the world is challenging and exciting. Having a partner that supports your feeding choices makes everything a little easier. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Chances are, your partner will be looking for ways to be involved with baby and you during your breastfeeding journey as well. Happy breastfeeding!

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Sarah is a mom of two wonderful boys, and is expecting her third child in March! She is bamboobie’s support maven as well as a Certified Lactation Educator and Counselor and is passionate about all things breastfeeding. 
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Everything You Need To Know About Postpartum Bleeding And Periods After Childbirth

by Dr. Kymberlee Lake

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Most women know that there may be some bleeding after giving birth but often women are surprised by how much and how long and they aren’t aware of the difference between postpartum bleeding and discharge and menstruation. The first bleeding after you give birth is called lochia.

What exactly is lochia? 

Lochia is the discharge consists of blood from the area on the uterine wall to which the placenta was attached during pregnancy, the sloughed off endometrium (uterine lining which makes a bed for the fetus) which gets considerably thickened during pregnancy, blood and mucus from the healing cervix,  and dead (necrotic) tissue. Your blood volume increases by approximately 50% in pregnancy, all that extra blood also has to go somewhere after birth. Most women will experience blood and lochia discharge for 3- 6 weeks though that time span can very from pregnancy to pregnancy and can be directly influenced by a healing mother’s activity level.

Why do we have lochia and where does it come from?

The blood in the lochia comes mainly from the large raw area left in the uterine wall after the placenta detaches from it. While bleeding from this area is controlled by contraction of the uterine muscles immediately after delivery, it takes on the average about two weeks for this area to heal. It is important to remember that this is a wound and it is possible to do too much before it has healed and reopen the wound, causing fresh bleeding. You will experience this bleeding for around four to six weeks postpartum.
Stages of lochia postpartum bleeding lunapads reusable menstrual pads
For the first few days it will be a heavy flow (kind of like a heavy period) and will be  colored dark red, with some clotting.  About the end of the first week the flow should start to taper off, becoming lighter in saturation and color; as time passes, it will fade to a brown, yellowish or even almost-white discharge. 

One thing to remember is that the placental area as well as the sites of sloughing endometrium are raw and open during this time and bacteria can easily spread from the vagina. So, the use of tampons should be avoided – sanitary pads are the best options to be used during this time. 

What is normal and when should I be concerned?

You might notice a ‘gush’ of blood with clotting when you stand up – this is very normal. Also, if you’re breastfeeding, you might notice that you lose more blood after feeding baby; this is caused by your hormones doing their work to help shrink your uterus back to it’s pre pregnancy size. The lochia is sterile for the first 2-3 days but then becomes colonised by bacteria giving off a typical distinct lochial smell which is normal and should not be confused with the bad odor from lochia in postpartum infection.

If the discharge smells foul, you’re still noticing a lot of blood loss after the first four weeks, or the blood is bright red, these are signs of infection and you should speak to your health care provider as soon as you can. This is especially true if you also have a fever (no matter how slight)  or are generally feel ill. Likewise, if your blood loss is so heavy that you’re going through more than a pad an hour, you should get medical help immediately – this can be a sign of a hemorrhage. If in question and something feels “off” it is worth a call to your health care provider for advice.

Types of Lochia

Depending on the color and consistency, lochia can be of three types:

  • Lochia Rubra: Lochia rubra occurs in the first 3-4 days after delivery. It is reddish in color – hence the term ‘rubra’. It is made up of mainly blood, bits of fetal membranes, decidua, meconium, and cervical discharge.
  • Lochia Serosa: The lochia rubra gradually changes color to brown and then yellow over a period of about a week. It is called lochia serosa at this stage. The lochia serosa contains less red blood cells but more white blood cells, wound discharge from the placental and other sites, and mucus from the cervix.
  • Lochia Alba: The lochia alba is a whitish, turbid fluid which drains from the vagina for about another 1 – 2 weeks. It mainly consists of decidual cells, mucus, white blood cells, and epithelial cells.

Do women who give birth by c-section still have lochia?

Many women believe that the flow of lochia is less after a cesarean section since the uterine cavity is cleaned out after the birth of the baby. This is not true. The flow of lochia is not dependent on the type of delivery –  The amount and duration is the same in both cases.

Return of Menses

There’s no hard rule as to when your period will return post-baby – it can vary from woman to woman, and pregnancy to pregnancy. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Women who bottle-feed can see their menstrual cycle return within six weeks of birth – and most will have menses back by ten to twelve weeks.
  • Women who exclusively breastfeed may not get their period back for some time. When you breastfeed, you body releases the milk-producing hormone prolactin, which, in turn, keeps our levels of progesterone and estrogen low. Progesterone and estrogen are the hormones responsible for signaling ovulation and menstruation. Night nursing directly effects these levels, a decrease in breastfeeding at night may lead to a return of menses.

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Once your period returns, it can take even longer for it to get into a regular cycle. If you are bottle feeding it can take around six months, while exclusively breastfeeding your baby can take 12-18 months. But keep in mind that this does vary from mom to mom and pregnancy to pregnancy. Even with exclusive breastfeeding on demand and no artificial nipples, there are women who see a return of their menses as early as 6 weeks while others may not breastfeed and still experience a considerable delay. Each woman is different. Some women experience lighter flows and/or less cramping with their menses after having a baby, others experience the same, and still others may experience an increase. The range of normal variations is considerable but very heavy bleeding, soaking a full size pad in 1-2 hours, may indicate a problem and should be addressed with your health care provider. There are a variety of factors that contribute to possible changes with the return of your period but keep in mind that diet, physical activity, and your menstrual products can all contribute to cramps and duration.

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Please be aware that your first egg (ovulation) will be released two weeks before your period starts, so if you have unprotected sex without realizing that you are ovulating, you could get pregnant before you have even began menses again. It’s a good idea to speak to your healthcare provider about contraception even before you start thinking about sex again, so you can be confident in your choice ahead of time.

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Kymberlee is a Physician/midwife, Therapeutic foster/adoptive parent with 6 kids ranging in age from 31 to 3 and three grandchildren. She is living life to the full with MS in the Pacific NorthWET.  As an international travel enthusiast and fan of teleportation you can find her under the name “Dr_Kymberlee” live streaming and on social media, or on her often neglected blog, TheMamaMidwife.com
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8 Points About Breastfeeding in Pregnancy- What You Need To Know

By Jessica Martin-Weber

This post made possible by the support of EvenFlo Feeding

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Increasingly, families are finding that breastfeeding through pregnancy, an option previously considered taboo, is one they are interested in trying. While it isn’t for everyone, many may find that it is something they would like to do and it turns out there’s good reason too. Though once common in some cultures and settings, in the USA and other countries there are a lot of unknowns as the practice has not been acceptable for a few generations. Today though, more is understood and as more families have ventured into the journey, we have more experience upon which to draw and share wisdom. Below are 7 points about breastfeeding through pregnancy that members of The Leaky Boob community shared as what we need to know about breastfeeding through pregnancy.

It is possible. Though it has commonly been believed that breastfeeding during pregnancy isn’t safe, this is a fairly recent belief and throughout history, breastfeeding during pregnancy was considered normal. A reliable source of nutrition and comfort, for many families it just makes sense to continue. Breastfeeding through pregnancy is not only possible, it can provide many benefits for both the nursling, the expecting parent, and the growing baby in the womb.

It is safe- most of the time. Unless there is some underlying condition that would make it risky for you to breastfeed your child through a current pregnancy, it is usually safe to do so. While breastfeeding does cause some uterine contractions, these are brief and short-lived and in a normal, healthy pregnancy will not result in early labor. Unfortunately, not all health care providers are aware of this and may incorrectly advise pregnant parents to wean their nursling. If your health care provider has told you to stop breastfeeding, request information on why they are making this recommendation and what your risk factors are. Share with them this information here, here, and here on safe breastfeeding in a normal, health pregnancy.

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It can help ease the transition. An older baby or breastfeeding toddler may not be fully aware that they are about to have a new sibling but they can pick up on their parent’s emotions. Breastfeeding may help ease the transition through pregnancy, birth, and the newborn stage for your older nursling. Having this connection and nutrition continue may help them not to feel so displaced and gives them a way to share and connect with the new baby.

It may get uncomfortable. Some women, not all, experience discomfort with breastfeeding in pregnancy. Some will have pain. As the body changes it is possible the nipples and breasts may become more sensitive. For some women this is temporary and will end in the 2nd trimester, others experience it later in the pregnancy only, and still others may find it lasts the duration of the pregnancy. Trying different positions, setting limits with breastfeeding, and being patient with yourself and your nursling can help through this trying experience.

It may lead to low supply. Breastfeeding in pregnancy causes all kinds of hormones to rush through the system and some of them may have the unfortunate result of reduced lactation. Not all lactating parents experience this but it isn’t uncommon. As lactation is in response to the placenta detaching from the uterine wall at the end of pregnancy and birth and is maintained by regular milk removal and hormones, sometimes the body ceases milk production. Some may experience milk drying up early in the pregnancy and then early milk coming in near term, others experience milk drying up later in pregnancy with no signs of new milk until birth. It is possible to continue with suckling even if all milk production has ceased, this is often called “dry nursing” and if it is agreeable with both parties of the breastfeeding dyad it is fine to continue. Sometimes the drying up of milk leads to weaning of the nursling earlier than had been planned.

It may become an aversion. As much as some experience breastfeeding as a deeply beautiful, calming, bonding moment with their nursling, some find that pregnancy drastically alters their feelings about breastfeeding. In the moment, as their child latches and continues to suckle, they may feel a rush of intense dislike, anger, sadness, frustration, and a sense of being trapped. This can come as quite a shock and may lead to questioning her feelings and concern about her parenting. However, this is a hormonal response and not a reflection of her feelings for her child. There is a chance these feelings will ease through the pregnancy but some do experience it intensifying. On a case by case basis, pregnant breastfeeding parents may find that their mental health or their relationship with their child may benefit from weaning if feelings of resentment are making it difficult to connect. Many that experience breastfeeding aversion in pregnancy find that having an understanding safe person with whom to share their experience can help them cope should they chose to continue breastfeeding through their aversion.

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It may help your supply. Breastfeeding through pregnancy and then tandem breastfeeding following birth can provide a number of positives including more demand which may lead to mature milk coming in quickly. Lactation is a hormonal response first, a supply response second. The more milk is emptied from the breast, the more milk the breast will make. Having an older nursling alongside a newborn can provide relief from engorgement while at the same time ensuring a solid supply.

It’s ok. Yep, it’s ok. It’s ok, it’s not weird. It’s ok to breastfeed through pregnancy as long as there is no underlying condition that could make it dangerous. It’s ok to not breastfeed through pregnancy. It’s ok to start breastfeeding through pregnancy and then decide it isn’t for you. It’s ok to try it and decide you want to continue all the way through. It’s ok that not everyone will choose this and it’s ok that some people don’t understand. It’s ok.

As always, breastfeeding is a unique adventure and not everyone will experience the journey the same. From breastfeeder to breastfeeder, our stories may differ and that’s ok. Regardless, everyone deserves support and information in reaching their goals, trusted to make the best decision for themselves and their family. Should you choose to breastfeed through pregnancy, you’re not alone and you have our support either way and no matter what your journey brings.

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Jessica Martin-Weber

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, and creator and author of the children’s book and community of What Love Tastes Like, supporter of A Girl With A View, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. She co-parents her 6 daughters with her husband of 19 years and is currently writing her first creative non-fiction book.
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Pregnancy and Infant Loss- What Helps and What Hurts

By Jessica Martin-Weber
This post has been made possible by the generous partnership of Tula Baby Carriers, Ameda, Inc., and Earth Mama Angel Baby.

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The way we respond to someone’s grief and suffering usually is about making ourselves more comfortable even if the intent is to comfort them. The key to offering true support is empathy, and to cultivate empathy we must first listen and sit with the pain. It is only then that we can come to understand that caring isn’t about fixing but rather, comforting. There is no way to take the hurt away, we can only be there through the hurt.

October is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month, a time set aside to educate on these issues. When that month ends, though, our awareness should continue as it does for those who carry the awareness of their loss(es) throughout the year. For those mourning loss, there is more than a month of processing their grief and while we may question our time and emotional bandwidth to be available, when someone we know and care for has journeyed the road of loss, we have an opportunity to make a difference and confirm that they and their loss matters.

Awareness is always just the first step, the second is action. To help us move our awareness into action, we are sharing what parents who have experienced loss say are the most and least helpful ways to act and respond to loss. You don’t have to have experienced similar loss to offer empathetic support and care, we’re all capable even if we’re unsure as to how.

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Understanding

In his book, Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy, J. William Worden explains that miscarriage is seen as a socially negated loss, that for some to even view such a loss as death can bring on guilt. Devan McGuinness, Founder of perinatal loss support website, UnspokenGrief.com and a loss mother herself, on the impact that discovering a friend grieved their own loss saying it: “helped me process my grief by talking with someone who understood and I felt that my grief was more “normal” – meaning that I wasn’t overreacting in feeling such loss and sadness.”

The loss of an infant is also a taboo subject, the fear of causing pain leads to silence and often loneliness in the mourning process. Worden’s Grief Theory describes grief as a U shape. The mourning processes takes us down into deep part of the U, a place that can be lonely and it is better if we can make the journey with others. We have to resist the urge to build a shoddy rope bridge across to avoid going down through the grief. Such an action only disconnects us.

Kari Bundy, founder of the infant loss support organization, Mason’s Cause which offers empathetic grief support with other grieving parents as well as practical information such as how to plan a funeral, shares that she and her husband felt alone when their son Mason died of SIDS at 4 months old and finding practical informative support as well as the emotional space to mourn was overwhelming.

Melinda Olson, founder of BabyLossComfort.com and founder, owner of Earth Mama Angel Baby, labor and delivery nurse, mother and grandmother, has spent decades now supporting families through loss: “It’s hard to know what to say to someone who has lost a baby. Bodies can be healed, but as with all other major wounds,  a scar remains. The same is true for grief. We don’t try to take that pain away, but to hold her hand through it. It’s never easy, but it’s always an honor.” Melinda offers a concise list on what to say to grieving families here.

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What Helps – Remember Them

Jessica: Remember the child. Let the parents know you think of him or her. Trust me, you aren’t reminding them of their loss, it’s on their minds already anyway, but it’s nice to know someone else thinks of your child.

Leah: Don’t forget. Mark the date of loss on your calendar for years to come. What a glowing feeling it would bring me if just SOMEONE remembered my daughter’s birthday.

Kina: It really hurt that my hubby didn’t remember the due date or the date of the miscarriage. It made me feel like I was the only one who cared about my baby.

Tiffany: Speak my daughter’s name, it may bring a tear to my eye but you didn’t remind me she died. (I could never forget) but you saying her name means you remember she lived and that means the world to me. I fear the day when I’m long gone that her memory will be forgotten.

Vivian: Respect my ways of honoring and join me in them. Gifts are nice but your presence matters more.

Bridgette: I have a few friends who light a candle every year on my son’s birthday and send me a picture of their candle in his honor. It means more than I can say that others care for my son too.

 

Question, Wait, and Be Present – Don’t give advice, give availability

Tori: It meant the world when a friend came to sit with me/help take care of my son so I wouldn’t be alone while waiting out a miscarriage.

Anna: I really appreciated those who just listened. I needed to talk about it without any advice or words of comfort… There ARE no words of comfort.

Kara Glenn: Having friends and family check in, bring dinner, invite us over… all of these things make us feel loved, and keep us from feeling isolated.

Dykibra: My advice: ask people what they want. My mother was great and gave me the space I needed.

Dawnn: Helpful? Food. It’s the last thing I wanted to think about.

Amber: The best things was supportive hugs. Having someone call me daily to tell me they loved me.

Alyssa: The most helpful was my best friend helping with the details of planning my daughter’s funeral and understanding my anger about the investigation by the authorities. (SIDS usually requires an investigation.) She let me cry and vent whenever I needed to.

Marinas: It was helpful to hear that It’s okay to be angry right now. There’s nothing fair about your baby dying.

Samone: I lost two pregnancies at 20 weeks. What was not helpful was people saying that I was lucky because the baby would have been born with a deformity. Seriously, I just wish people had said that they were sorry.

“It’s hard to know what to say to someone who has lost a baby. Bodies can be healed, but as with all other major wounds, a scar remains. The same is true for grief. We don’t try to take that pain away, but to hold her hand through it. It’s never easy, but it’s always an honor.” 
~Melinda Olson

What Hurts

There’s no perfect way to support through such grief but there are ways that are hurtful that a little bit of awareness can help us avoid. Loss parents shared some things that are NOT helpful to say:

Sometimes it’s just not meant to be.

It must have been God’s plan.

At least you can have children/At least you already have a child(ren).

Oh yes I know how you feel, my friend had the same thing…

Well it was probably deformed.

You’re not the only person it happens to (because somehow that means I shouldn’t be upset).

Don’t dwell on it.

Charissa pointed out: I don’t need a distraction, telling me I need to keep busy so I was distracted made me feel like it was wrong for me to be sad.

Kara Glenn, mom and Tula Baby Carriers team member talked with me about the loss of her son, Oliver, her daughter’s twin, at 4 months old. You can read her powerful and moving story more in depth here (including loss after infertility). A true empath, Kara shared the conflicting range of emotions she experiences in grieving one child while being present with another. She’s very understanding of the struggle others face when trying to offer comfort.

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Kara’s twins, Avery and Oliver together before Oliver’s passing.

“I do know that people mean well. The death of a baby is a hard thing for people to talk about. It makes people say awkward things. I really try my best to shake it off when something rubs me the wrong way. I just don’t have the emotional capacity right now to focus on it.”

Still, she says, there are some statements that make it harder.

“When they say: ‘At least you have Avery.’ I know they mean well, but by saying that, it makes me feel that I’m not already thankful and grateful that I have my sweet baby girl. Like it’s not possible to both grieve and mourn the death of my precious four-month-old boy, and love his twin sister with every ounce of my being. Another comment that can be hurtful is when people say, ‘I don’t know how you are functioning, I’d be a mess.’ This automatically makes me feel guilty for functioning… for just surviving. Believe me, I don’t know how I’m doing it either. To assume that someone isn’t struggling just because you see them doing something normal like grocery shopping is just plain insensitive and hurtful. There are days when putting one foot in front of the other is the hardest thing in the world. On those days, you likely won’t see me. On those days, the groceries can wait.”

Whether you’ve experienced pregnancy or infant loss personally or want to be able to support others grieving their child, there is no expectation that comfort be offered perfectly. Trying means a lot and doing so with sensitivity and awareness makes a difference. Journey into the deepest part of the U with others by listening and empathizing as you go and you can be a part of making a difference. You don’t have to fix it, just offer comfort through it.

An extensive list of resources for information and support through infant and pregnancy loss a can be found here and for ideas to create pathways of remembrance, see here.

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Jessica Martin-Weber

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, and creator and author of the children’s book and community of What Love Tastes Like, supporter of A Girl With A View, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. She co-parents her 6 daughters with her husband of 19 years and is currently writing her first creative non-fiction book.

 

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Pumping Breastmilk and What You Need To Know

By Amy Peterson, IBCLC

This article made possible by the generous support of Earth Mama Angel Baby.

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Not every mom needs to pump. When baby is with mom for feedings and transferring milk effectively, there is no need to pump. But there are times when pumping breastmilk is important:

  •      Baby needs more milk (a supplement for one or more feeds)
  •      Mom wants to increase her supply
  •      Mom and baby are apart for feedings, such as when mom is at work or school
  •      Mom wants to have someone else participate in feedings
  •      Anytime mom will miss a feeding

In these circumstances, using a breast pump helps maintain or increase the milk supply for future feedings, and the pumped milk offers the perfect food for baby. This article touches on choosing between the different types of breast pumps, general pumping guidelines, and tips for increasing milk supply if necessary.

When possible, choose a pump that meets your unique situation. If you’ll only miss a feed or two each week, a manual pump or single electric is plenty. If you need to pump for several feedings a day, a high quality, double electric pump is a better choice.  If your baby is hospitalized or you need to dedicate time to increasing your supply, a hospital grade/rental pump is the best choice.

You can get a breast pump from many different places: box stores (Babies ‘R Us, Target, WalMart, etc.), online, a friend, thrift store, or possibly through your insurance company. Buying a used breast pump or borrowing a pump is usually not recommended. Most brands are considered single user items. These pumps do not control for the transfer of bacteria or germs between the pump motor and the milk, putting the baby’s health at risk. If you know the pump brand has a closed system, you could consider purchasing a new collection kit with tubing. Even so, you may not know if the pump is working less effectively than when purchased new, potentially putting your supply at risk.

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It is also important to note that not all women respond well to pumps and not all pumps work equally well for every lactating individual. This is why we have options. There are various contributing aspects that may impact how well a pump performs such as flange size, suction strength, type of suction, etc. If a pump is not working well for you it is possible that another would. Some breasts prefer one pump over another and some breasts prefer manual expression.

Most breast pumps have two settings. One button controls the vacuum, and the other button controls how fast the pump cycles (sucks). These settings let you fine tune the pump to mimic your baby’s suction and rhythm. For maximum milk production, use the highest comfortable suction. Use a fast cycling rate until your milk flows, then adjust to your comfort level; this mimics how your baby sucks before and after a let-down. A few brands of breast pumps have a built in feature that begins with fast cycling and adjusts slower. Some moms find they have better milk flow when they reset the button and continue with fast cycling.

Here are some general pumping guidelines to get you started:

  •      Pump for any feeding you will miss. Your milk supply is based on supply and demand, and pumping for each missed feeding tells your body to keep producing milk during that time.
  •      Pump the amount of milk your baby needs.  For example, if your baby takes 3 ounces of milk, pump 3 ounces total (1 ½ ounces from each breast).  If you pump what you need in 4 minutes—you can stop pumping.
  •      Pump between feedings to build a bottle. You can combine the milk from several pumping sessions to make a larger bottle of milk.
  •      Pump at night or in the early morning hours when your supply is highest.
  •      A gentle breast massage routine, called hands-on pumping, has been proven effective in increasing the amount of milk a mom can pump. Check it out here.

For moms who are not able to pump enough milk and who want to increase their supply, there are additional pumping tips:

  •      Pump until your milk stops flowing, and then pump two more minutes. This limited extra pumping is enough to tell your breasts to make more.
  •      Pump more often. Leave your pump set up (where your toddler can’t reach it!). Pump for 5-10 minutes once or twice an hour.
  •      Use the hands-on pumping technique listed here and above.
  •      Know that pumping alone may not increase your milk supply. Work with a breastfeeding helper who is knowledgeable about other targeted methods to boost supply.
  •      While you work on increasing your milk supply, feed your baby. You can combine your breastmilk with donor milk or formula to be sure your baby is getting enough. Some moms choose to feed breastmilk separate from formula to avoid wasting any breastmilk if baby doesn’t finish the bottle. As long as your guestimate is cautious, it is safe to mix; the milks will mix in baby’s belly anyway.

While pumping is an important aspect for many families in reaching their breastfeeding goals, how much is pumped is not a reliable sign of milk production. As with most areas of parenting, take your cues from your baby. When baby is growing well and reaching milestones within range then how much you pump doesn’t need to be a concern. If you see signs of dehydration or poor weight gain, speak with your child’s healthcare provider.

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Happy pumping mamas! You’ve totally got this and we’ve teamed up with Earth Mama Angel Baby to support you in your pumping journey with a giveaway of Earth Mama Angel Baby’s Milk-to-Go kit for Leakies in the USA. A $40 retail value, this kit includes:

One pair of Booby Tubes® (one pair) for cold or warm therapeutic use, 1 box of Organic Milkmaid Tea (16 tea bags) a fragrant comforting blend that supports healthy breast milk production, safe Natural Nipple Butter (1 fl. oz.), Happy Mama Body Wash (1.67 fl. oz.), one Eco-friendly Reusable Insulated Bag, and a tasty recipe for Organic Milkmaid French Vanilla Chai.

Use the widget below to be entered!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Amy Peterson is a mom of 4, IBCLC, Early Intervention coordinator, and retired LLL Leader. She works alongside a speech-language pathologist, and together they co-authored Balancing Breast and Bottle: Reaching Your Breastfeeding Goals. They have also written a series of tear-of sheets available through Noodle Soup: Introducing a bottle to your full-term breastfed baby, Pumping for your breastfed baby, Pacifiers and the breastfed baby, and Bottle pacing for the young breastfed baby. Amy’s passion is helping others find fulfillment and confidence in parenting, regardless of feeding method. Visit Amy’s website at breastandbottlefeeding.com.

 

 

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