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! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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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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Pumping Basics Part 1- What The Experts Say To Do To Get Started Pumping Your Breastmilk

by Jessica Martin-Weber with Rene Fisher, IBCLC

This article made possible by the generous support of Ameda.

Ameda Finesse Double Electric Breast pump

When my baby was 4 weeks old, it was time for me to get started pumping not only for my baby to be able to receive my milk when I had to be away from her for work, but also for me to donate my milk to other babies.

To help me get started pumping, I spoke with Rene Fisher, IBCLC from Ameda, Inc. She helped me pick out a pump, the new Ameda Finesse Double Electric, and got me all set up. Via video chat and live stream, Rene got me all ready to go and before I knew it, I was filling milk storage containers with my milk. Thanks to Rene’s help, for the first time ever, after pumping through 6 babies, I’m finally using the right size flanges and pumping pain-free. See what I learned in the video and points below.

Setting Up Your Pump

Carefully read your instruction manual and ensure you have all the parts you need. Follow the directions for preparing your pump and setting up. Wash each part that comes in contact with your breast and milk including the flanges, milk storage containers (unless you intend to pump directly into bags such as the Store and Pour Ameda breastmilk storage bags), valves, and diaphragms. Do NOT wash the tubing. Plug in your power adaptor or install batteries. Wash your hands and assemble the kit (tubing, flanges, diaphragms, valves, milk storage containers, etc.).

Determine Your Flange Size 

Flanges are the horn shaped pieces that hold the pump and storage containers to your breasts. Correct fit of the flanges can prevent tissue damage and improve the effectiveness of your pump. All nipples are different and dynamic and the size of your flange may determine how you respond to pumping. Too small may cause pain and stress, reducing your output to the pump. Too large may cause too much areola and breast tissue to be engaged and not enough stimulation for let down or may result in reduced output. If your nipple presses against the flange or rubs, you may need a larger size. If there is a significant amount of space around your nipple and additional breast tissue is entering the flange which may rub, you may need a smaller size. Because nipples are dynamic, they may change during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and pumping. You may even need a different size flange mid-pumping session. See this video below and the information here to help you determine correct flange size.

Beginning: Set Up

If possible, set up in a quiet, relaxing space. Have a drink and a snack. Get as comfortable as possible, having read the manual prior to beginning.

Beginning: Positioing

Position the flange centered over your nipple, pressing in lightly to create a seal. Without a seal there will be no suction. If you are double pumping you can use your arms to help hold the flanges to your breasts but you may want to use a hands-free-pumping support.

Beginning: Before You Start

Relax. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Think of your baby. Focus on why you’re pumping rather than the output itself. You may want to watch a video of your baby, look at a photo, or smell their clothing.

Beginning: Turn Your Pump On

To get started with pumping, if your pump has individualized speed and suction settings, set your pump on the highest speed and, following the instruction manual for your pump, turn your pump on at the lowest suction level. Gradually increase suction strength to the highest comfortable level. Pumping should never hurt. It is not necessary to go to the highest level if it is painful for you and doing so could interfere with the milk ejection reflex and let down and result in reduced milk output to the pump, potentially causing tissue damage.

Beginning: Let Down and Expression

Stimulate let down with a high speed and the highest comfortable suction. Once let down begins (marked by spraying or flowing milk), reduce speed. You may feel ready to increase the suction level but only do so the the highest comfortable level. When the flow of milk slows to drips or a trickle, return to a higher speed and the highest comfortable suction level to stimulate another let down. It is possible to get up to 9 let downs in a 20 minute pumping session by adjusting speed and suction levels. It may be helpful to observe your baby’s pattern at the breast and mimic it as closely as possible with the pump during your pumping sessions.

When To Pump

When you pump for the first time will greatly depend on why you are pumping. If your baby is in the NICU and there is clinical separation from birth, you will need to begin as soon as possible and plan to pump 8-12 times within a 24 hour period for exclusively pumping. If you are pumping to return to work at 6 weeks postpartum, it is advisable to wait until 3-4 weeks postpartum and your milk supply and breastfeeding are established to protect your supply. If possible, introduce pumping gradually for partial separation giving at least an hour before breastfeeding again after pumping (though let your baby feed at the breast whenever they want to!). Many breastfeeding parents find they get more milk pumping first thing in the morning. Pumping one side while baby is latched and feeds from the other can also lead to more let downs while pumping.

How Long To Pump

Many breastfeeding parents find that 15-20 minutes is adequate time to pump. Some may find it takes longer but with the right pump and proper flange fit, 15-20 minutes will be plenty for most. Utilizing hands on pumping or breast massage while you pump can help encourage your breasts to empty fully, signaling your breasts to produce more milk for your baby. When you pump will depend on your reasons for pumping, how long you are away from your baby, and the amount of milk you need. Every breastfeeding parent and baby are different, figure out what works for you. For more on when and how long to pump, see here.

 

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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Happy Sex Life – Happy Family, Good Clean Love

by Wendy Strgar

 

goodcleanlove.com

(Facebook livestream on The Leaky Boob with Jessica and Jeremy, parents of 7, featuring Loveologist, Wendy Strgar.)

It has been almost two decades since the birth of my fourth and last baby and yet, even 20 years later, I still remember the cold snap that overtook my marriage in the months that followed her birth. It wasn’t like the previous three kids hadn’t taken a cumulative toll on our sex life. But it was also easy to blame our degenerating intimate life on the overwhelming demands and exhaustion of raising four kids. Over time, it became clear that there were actually many other more important factors contributing to the sexless state of our marriage, and more importantly, that the lack of intimacy we shared was creating deep fissures in the foundation of our loving connection.

It was mind boggling for me, as I suspect it is for most every new parent, just how much of our attention is consumed by the fragility and wonder of a new life – often more than we think it is. In ways that I didn’t expect, a powerful internal conflict grew with each child I had, and worse still, lived at the epicenter of the ongoing and escalating conflicts I had with my partner. Who got to do their own thing, whether occupationally or personally, became our ground of competition. With each new baby the challenges of meeting my own needs and knowing my own desires left me feeling lonely and often angry at my husband. Our experience of growing a family was so different. His inability to understand my ambivalence about full-time mothering and my longing for myself isolated us from each other. And not surprisingly, it was our sex life that was held hostage by our ongoing estrangement in our relationship.

 

Wendy Strgar

 

This loss of a sex life is so common to new parents that it’s cliché. In fact, of all life transitions having a baby tops the list for the disruption of a woman’s libido and a couple’s sex life – sometimes for years. Of course there are many factors at play here – everything from hormones to how couples communicate and show up for each other after the birth of a new baby plays a big role. But even more important than many people realize is how a lack of sexual education and communication skills weighs on our ability to adapt and grow together intimately.

Initially, our sex life falls apart innocently with the many challenging circumstances of growing a family.   But often what becomes clear is just how our limited sexual education manifests and undermines our ability to both identify and express our sexual needs. Without realizing it, our deficit of sexual know-how degenerates into low sexual self-esteem and turns into a battleground of hurt feelings. I remember early in my marriage how little I understood about my own arousal mechanism and how uncomfortable we both were when it came to using words to describe our sexual preferences. Erroneously, I believed that my partner should just know what kinds of touch felt best or which positions worked for me – which was strange, because I didn’t know them myself.

The truth is that what we have no language for is often not available to us. And it is not surprising that so many relationships suffer from ongoing sexual dysfunction issues issues like pain with sex, the inability to orgasm, ongoing vaginal dryness or for men, premature ejaculation and the inability to maintain erections. In fact the sexual health issues are shared almost equally between male and female partners.

We struggled with this combination of sexual inexperience for more years than I would like to admit, which often created more frustration than our fledgling relationship could hold. We often degenerated into hurtful sexual blaming that made both of us feel impotent and afraid to engage. Living with persistent sexual frustration often evolves into an approach-avoidance game where everyone loses and one, or both, partners starts putting one foot out the door.

As our sex life starts to slip away, we don’t realize the impact it is having on the cohesion in the whole relationship. We forget how much emotional release that our physical intimacy brings. I often call it the glue that keeps all the rest of the mess intact, but we know that not engaging sexually undermines the health and longevity of the relationship in so many other ways.

Finding your way out of this downward sexual spiral is possible and deserves your attention. What helped us was both recognizing how much we didn’t want to lose the intimate space we had taken for granted, and developing the curiosity to learn more about our own sexual response. The more confident I became in my own ability to express my sexual needs, the more I could bring to our intimacy and stop blaming him when it didn’t work.

As he saw my willingness grow, and wasn’t worried about my wrath, he had time and space to figure out what helped for him to last longer. With practice, I also got better at finding ways to wake up my arousal which made it possible to throw out the entire idea of needing to “be in the mood.” The more I trusted my capacity to generate a sexual mood, the more we were able to synch up our sexual desires.

During all the baby years I usually had to think my way into desire. It never just came to me, but it became easier and easier to remember how much softer life was for everyone when we took care of our sexual needs first.

 

Wendy Strgar is an award-winning entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, a pioneer in the organic personal care product industry. She is a popular blogger and author of two books. Sex That Works: An Intimate Guide To Awakening Your Erotic Life, published by Sounds True Publishing in June 2017, is the companion to her first popular book, Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy. Wendy has been featured in many publications including The New York Times Book Review. For more information about Wendy’s relationship help books, visit her author website.

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#TLBnourish 2017 – Gifts to Support the Nourisher

#TLBnourish 2017 is under way, and our campaign sponsors want to support you as you seek to nourish your family and yourself. Check out the sponsors’ products below and use the widget underneath to enter for your chance to win them! For more information on #TLBnourish 2017, click here.

 

A huge thanks to My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear, Pure Spoon, BeliBea, and Motif Pumps presented by Aeroflow Breastpumps for supporting parents and their kids year-round, and for supporting #TLBnourish 2017 for the next few weeks. Check out their featured products below and enter the giveaway for your chance to win all of them!

 

My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear

The Rainbow Keepsake Kit, retail value: $39.99

The Rainbow Keepsake Kit is a beautiful way to celebrate or honor a life. Accessorize your Heartbeat Animal with a rainbow tutu, rainbow bowtie, or both. Comes with a 13-15″ stuffed animal of your choice and heart-shaped recorder. 

 

Pure Spoon


Pure Spoon $50 gift card, retail value: $50

Pure Spoon’s organic HPP baby food use 100% fresh, certified organic fruits and veggies that are cold-pressed, cold-packed and delivered right to your door. Pure Spoon has 11 flavors, including Avocado and Apples; Blueberry, Bananas and Apples; Butternut Squash, Apples and Oats; Carrots and Zucchini; Simply Pears; and more.

 

Belibea

 

NOURISH Essentials 3-pack, retail value: $127.95

NOURISH Essentials 3-pk includes:
1* NOURISH by BeliBea bra (nude)
1* NOURISH by BeliBea bra (black)
1* NOURISH CAMI (black)
Our seamless, stretch NOURISH Nursing & Pumping bras feature a unique two panel, double snap design allowing for both breastfeeding and pumping. Made for the flexibility of the modern mom, it provides the comfort and convenience of wearing one garment whether nursing, pumping or reveling in the sweet moments in between.
 

Motif Pumps, presented by Aeroflow Breastpumps

 

 

Motif Medical Duo Breast Pump, retail value: $190
Giveaway winner will have the choice to receive either the Curve or the Duo. 
Motif Medical was started with one thing in mind – family. With that, Motif has created products that help families stay happy and healthy. By providing quality products, Motif is able uphold the highest standard for the company. The Motif Duo is the perfect breast pump for busy moms. The pump features an easy-to-operate memory mode that stores your favorite settings to use at a later time. Enjoy pumping on-the-go with this lightweight pump with a rechargeable battery. The Motif Curve is lightweight, quiet and supports many combinations of suction and massage settings. Pump anytime and anywhere with the battery powered motor.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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