by Jessica Martin-Weber, illustrated by Jennie Bernstein
Summer is here. And maybe your new little baby is here, too. Snuggly and warm.
Oh, so warm.
Almost suffocatingly hot.
Dear God, is that a baby or a furnace you’re holding? The temperature outside is a stifiling 100+ degrees and holding that little fireball while also living on the approximate surface of the sun might be a bit much for you.
But you want cake.
Except it’s summer and who has the time or energy or heat capacity to use an oven?
But you still want cake.
Enter your new BFF – The CrockPot.
Yep. Make your cake IN THE SLOWCOOKER.
There is no need to turn your house into an incinerator while taking care of your miniature lava ball on top of the erupting volcano we call Earth just to have a tasty and relatively healthy treat.
This recipe utilizes the amazing benefits of oats, lowers the glycemic index with the use of coconut palm sugar, and gives you the fun milk-boosting benefit of stout beer without actually consuming it. Plus, after baking it for several hours in a large pot, a majority of the alcohol dissipates so you don’t have to worry about you (or your other kiddos) getting a buzz when eating it. All of this, just by using your crockpot.
Now, to be clear, this is a dense cake. It’s almost more of a bread. Should we call it a cake bread? Either way, it’s satisfying and just perfectly sweet. You can add chopped up apples or nuts if you want to give it more texture. I prefer to top my crockpot cake with a bit of homemade whipped cream, sweetened slightly with honey.
The best way to store this is pre-cut in storage containers. Once completely cool, you can slice it and use parchment or wax paper to separate the layers inside the container. It’s easy to grab on the go, and you aren’t using up that valuable crockpot or counter space to store. It refrigerates well, and also freezes well. You can eat it in the morning with your yummy lactation tea, or as a late-night nursing snack while you cuddle your tiny newborn/thermal nuclear reactor.
What’s in your CrockPot?
Just like any of the other mechanical doodads that we rely on day-to-day, a breast pump is not built to last forever. As a general rule, you should be able to expect about 300 hours of active use out of a good, high-quality pump. Now before you worry too much, keep in mind that if you’re pumping for around 15 minutes each sitting, your 300 hours should still get you well past the 1,000 session mark. Think of all that milk!
If you’re an especially active pumper, are using the same pump through multiple babies, or have inherited a pump that already had some mileage on it, keep alert for warning signs like poor suction, a straining motor, or what seems like an unexpected dip in supply. These could all be indicators that your pump is reaching the end of its life and could stand to be tested by a pro (a local lactation consultant might be able to take a look for you).
Regardless, wherever your pump is in its lifespan, make sure it’s working properly and take steps to resolve any issues right away. Your milk is too precious not to!
Thank you for giving my son life.
I don’t want to get crazy on you here, but let me be totally transparent: I can’t imagine what my family would look like without that liquid gold. Your gold. Your life-force alchemy.
I know what it’s like to hook yourself up to a pump every day, mulitple times a day, for months on end. Extracting that milk, creating extra steps, extra dishes, extra work while engaging in the most extra energy exerting time of your life with a newborn clutched to one breast as the pump cranks on the other. You never even hinted at the burden I knew it was for you. You handled it with an elegant grace I unreservedly admire.
Last year, I found myself stuck in a nightmare with my eight month old son. My sweet baby had severe food allergies (here’s what I want you to know about FPIES), and needed more milk than I could produce. My breasts, the ones that were meant to feed him, began to fail us both. Even after all of the nutrition and support and finally pharmaceutical medication, I could not raise my milk supply to keep up with his demand. Exclusive pumping, unimaginable stress, sick baby, hormone shifts, whatever. You name it, it contributed to the decrease in my milk.
Formula was a risky option for my son, even the expensive elemental ones that work for 99.9% of infants with food allergies. We had no guarantee my son’s compromised system could tolerate the pre-digested proteins, as many other babies with his syndrome are unable to. I prayed. I researched. I lit candles and called formula companies and looked into every conceivable way to feed my son that did not require actual food.
And then my phone rang and you were on the line, understanding with your medical knowledge and feeling it all with your tender heart, and asked if you could give my son your milk.
I cried. With my back literally against the wall, sitting on the floor of my bedroom, muffling my relieved sobs, I accepted your gift with the undeniable knowledge there was no way I could ever pay this gift forward, much less pay you back. With a newborn baby who needed your milk and a toddler who needed your attention, a full-time job and active community involvement, you offered to close the gap for us. You added one more thing to your very full plate and you did it with grace and strength and love.
Every few weeks, a box would arrive, overnighted from Texas to Oregon, dry ice all but disintegrated in a custom styrofoam cooler. (One of many coolers you recruited your friends to save for you to ship your milk to us.) You pumped your milk, froze it, picked up the cooler from your friend, loaded it all into your car, bought dry ice, carefully constructed the layers of dry ice and newspaper and milk inside the cooler, put that cooler in a box and took it to the shipping place with a hope and a prayer that all your hard work and irreplaceable milk would travel 2,000 miles and still be frozen when it arrived. You, who had a million and one things to do, found time and capacity to do one more (hard) thing. And you never complained.
I followed a strict elimination diet, and at one point I could only safely eat 11 foods without causing my son’s gut to bleed and his weight to drop. You altered your diet, too. You ate the same tiny list of foods because you loved my son that much. You restricted your menu and dilligently read every label and questioned every ingredient before eating a single bite in order to keep my son safe. You were full of encouraging words and creatively figured out what to eat when you couldn’t really eat anything and shared your food hacks with me.
Last summer, after seven months of pumping and freezing and shipping, you called me in tears. Your milk was almost gone, drying up to barely a trickle. I cried, too. I offered to send back what milk I had left in my freezer for your daughter. The milk belonged to her. YOU are HER mama. That milk was made for her. I was adamant.
You said no.
Unbeknownst to me, you had already tried other supplemental options and she responded well. “My baby is healthy. We can still nurse. And two more weeks of freezer milk will buy you time to find another way.” And you were right. We found another way. Another donor, (your sister). And another donor after that, (my best friend). And eventually, another supplementation my son’s body accepted.
If you’re looking to boost your supply, consider hitting the ground running (so to speak) first thing in the morning. Lots of moms find that a little early morning pumping can have a BIG impact on supply. It’ll take your body a bit of time to get used to the increased demand, but you’ll be seeing the benefits before you know it.
Of course, as any sleep-deprived mama can tell you, swapping precious minutes of shut-eye to sneak in an extra pumping session doesn’t always sound like the best deal. The good news is that you just might find that starting your day off pumping puts you in a much happier and well-balanced frame of mind than the typical morning routine.
Want to do yourself one better? Turn that early-a.m. pumping routine into a personal ritual that just might become one of the peaceful highlights of your day. Take your pumping time and turn it into something more…think morning beverage and maybe a little quiet reading time or web scrolling. We hope you enjoy your new morning routine!
(And keep in mind that PumpEase is one way to get even more out of any pumping session. Take your bliss to another level by pumping hands free!)
My husband and I decided to at least try get pregnant with our fifth (yes, I said fifth) child when our fourth child was just 8 months old. This was a conscious choice because: A. I was (am) getting old. Fast. B. Since I was already Advanced Maternal Age (whatever that means) we considered that it might take a few tries before we were successful, we thought, “Hey, let’s get this party started.”
It took one month.
So I found myself pregnant, mid-summer, with three teenagers and a 9-month-old baby. It’s worth adding that the 9-month-old baby slept about as good as a newborn baby, or worse. Just imagine the worst sleeping situation you can. Multiply it by 2. That’s her. Oh and by the way, my husband works out of town three days a week.
I know you’re probably saying to yourself, “WHAT THE HELL is wrong with this woman? Is she insane?’
Breastfeeding is important to me. Also, I have a guilt complex. There was no damn way I was weaning Ella. Even if it killed me (and it came close), I was hanging in.
And the first few weeks were really nothing special. I was nauseated, having a hard time nursing and keeping food in my body simultaneously. There was some gagging. Ok, there was a lot of gagging. It passed. There was some discomfort but nothing to moan too much about. Ella seemed thirsty, but Adventures in Tandem Nursing was my trusted companion. Having read that milk can take a turn for the salty, I kept a water bottle nearby and soldiered on.
The second trimester crept up before the holidays and one day, nursing Ella down to nap, I realized I hadn’t heard her swallowing. I snuck away, attempted to hand express some milk, only to find that I could not. I chalked this up to some inexplicable cause, I was dehydrated, hungry (neither of which are plausible), any cause really, other than the actual cause: my milk was gone.
It hadn’t even occurred to me that my supply would even dip, much less drop to nothing. And so I sat on the floor of my bedroom, huddled next to an outlet with my pump, topless and awkwardly entangled in tubing, pleading for even a drop of milk to appear. And of course — or there would be no point in this story — there wasn’t a bit. Not an ounce or a teaspoon. Not even a drip.
Blame it on the hormones, the dark winter, the shortened days, the overwhelming task of taking care of four children, blame the tears on what you will. I sat huddled, crying, sobbing, irrationally devastated. The only thing I wanted to do was feed my baby, and birth my other baby. And those things couldn’t co-exist.
Suddenly I felt the crushing guilt of everything I’d ever done; my divorce, my new husband, the new baby, the other new baby, the non-organic fruit in my fridge, that time I bought french fries, that other time I bought french fries, that glass of wine I drank during the third trimester, that time my sprinklers ran all night and we were in a drought, global warming. All of it.
Guilt complex. Did I mention it?
I took my guilt and terror into the second trimester. I took my crying to twitter. I asked for reassurance anywhere I could find it (including The Leaky Boob). I was so sure she would wean and it would be my fault and I would have broken her and myself and everything.
But she didn’t wean.
And sometimes I wished she would have. I know that doesn’t make sense (see: I’m crazy). But there were at least three occasions in the middle of the night — Ella screaming to nurse from a breast that had no milk (and PS that isn’t super comfortable) — that I wanted to literally put her outside. It was winter, or I might have.
Pubic symphysis dysfunction nearly crippled me. I had no milk and a baby that wanted nothing but milk. I had four kids that needed me and I was crawling on all fours to the laundry room. I wanted to put my screaming baby outside. I wanted to cover my head and come out finished with pregnancy. Sometimes I didn’t want to be pregnant at all. Sometimes I wanted to cease to exist.
It was not a good time.
And of course, because guilt, I was sure my unborn child knew I didn’t want to be pregnant. And I knew he’d be born and feel unloved and unwanted. I knew it.
And then my homebirth turned into a hospital birth (though that’s another story). And because I didn’t feel guilty enough about the fries and the lawn and everything else, I now got to feel guilt that the baby (who I was already sure felt unloved) had to be born in the hospital.
Less than two days after Max arrived my milk came in with a gush. When Ella realized the milk had miraculously returned after 6 months, she looked up at me, slowly signing ‘milk’ with the deliberate opening and closing of her tiny fist, she smiled her tiny smile, tongue still curled around my nipple. Her hand stroked the back of Max’s head, as if to say, “Thanks for coming. And oh also, thanks for bringing the milk with you.”
We made it to the other side. We graduated to tandem. And I didn’t put anyone in the backyard — excluding myself anyway.
Back to feeling guilty about global warming.
by Kileah McIlvain
August is all about transitions. For some of us that means a new baby and learning how to care for yourself and your new little one. For some it means exploring new places as a family or returning to work after an end-of-summer vacation. Whatever you are transitioning to or from, you want a wardrobe that functions and feels great no matter the scene you find yourself in! A big shout-out to the ever-soft Naked Tank and the classically beautiful MelindaG for joining with us this week as we transition into autumn and all of the new possibilities that lay ahead! (Plus, If you haven’t already, subscribe to our latest newsletter just released yesterday and find an exclusive coupon code for Naked Tank!)
Love our #LeakyLooks? Share, Pin, tag us on Instagram and show us how YOU like to rock your #LeakyLooks!
Babymoon. It’s all about the comfort. I don’t know about you but recovering from one of the biggest body-marathons EVER should mean some major pampering and self-care for both you AND baby as you’re getting the hang of breastfeeding. I started out with this unique Cami Sutra Nursing Tank from MelindaG. This is the only tank I’ve ever personally used on the market that has a separate adjustable bra underneath the tank layer! This makes for a much more comfortable fit as your supply is adjusting and it layers so well with just about anything else in my wardrobe! I’m currently obsessing over comfy jogger pants like these ones from H&M that double as both sweats and break the mold of just yoga pants! Layering with a favorite cardigan and keeping your tootsies warm with Target’s slide slippers is a must. Need some extra care for sore nipples, sore bottoms, or milk supply? Earth Mama Angel baby has a great Postpartum Recovery Essentials Bundle that is PERFECT for taking care of the recovering mum! Needing extra support while you and baby are getting the hang of nursing? Ergobaby has JUST recently released their Natural Curve Nursing Pillow and we here at TLB give it the Leaky Stamp of Approval!
First Friday Art Walk
Here in Portland, we have a great art scene and regularly have what we call “First Friday” every month! There are local art walks and bistros open to wine tastings, curated food samplings, and great live music in the local squares and street corners! This look starts out with the Fresh Flow Dress (Best Zipper placement EVER!) layered with the incredibly soft Naked Nursing Tank! This tank is lightweight, breathable, and makes for quicker access to feeding baby while walking around in the Beco Soleil Scribble carrier-enjoying the sights and sounds around you! Throw in some great patterned leggings, some colorful chewbeads, and a small Ju-Ju-Be Quick Olive Juice bag (You can buckle it to your carrier and it holds all of your essentials for mama and baby!).
Office Space-Leaky Style!
Whether you’re returning to work as a teacher, back in the office after an end-of-summer vacation, or meeting your next client, I created this great transition look to be comfortable, classy, and trendy! I started with a great lightweight blouse from Torrid. It has a hint of summer with all the great qualities of a shirt that can be dressed up with belted Midi skirt, or dressed down a bit for date night with a pair of jeans and heels (these green heels from Modcloth are my current fave!). If you’re working long hours at the office, having a comfortable nursing bra like the MelindaG Smoothly Divine Bra is so important! (I have this one and seriously. It’s sooo flattering! Plus I have larger breasts and I LOVE the sizing range!). Finish your layered look with a beautiful jewel-toned cardigan or coat, DON’T forget some great nipple butter, and carry your favorite pump in a chic bag like this one from Juno Blu!
After all of the shakes, parfaits, cookies, cakes, and bowls of oats, you might be ready for some green. As it turns out, this is just the thing.
For weeks, I started my day out with this tasty green smoothie. As a working mom who also pumped exclusively, I found it difficult to make good choices for breakfast. The convenience foods were much easier and took less effort, and on mornings when I was struggling to stay awake, (much less gather all my pump gear and my baby and my baby’s gear and leave the house before 8:00 AM), I found that too many extra steps made me crazy.
In an effort to fuel my brain, my body, and my baby, I decided to make a slight shift. I still grabbed my convenience foods for nursing snacks, (because, holy moly, making milk makes you HANGRY!), but I started my day with this instead.
The reason why I call this smoothie the Green Goddess? Well, I felt like a goddess when I drank it. I noticed that I moved more easily through my work day, my brain seemed to fire faster, and my milk more plentiful. It provided a necessary punch of energy, essential vitamins, healthy fats, and amino acids. Plus, I felt really good knowing that my baby was getting all of those fantastic nutrients, too.
This takes FIVE MINUTES to prepare and you have great morning fuel.
Directions: Combine everything in blender or magic bullet and blend until smooth. Chill in freezer for 20 minutes or drink immediately.
Let’s keep ourselves fueled, mamas. Feeding babies and taking care of ourselves is hard work.
Channelling The Inner Goddess,
For the BRAND NEW MUM, or for the NEWLY-MADE-MOTHER in your life, this newsletter edition is just for YOU. Resources curated to keep, share, and change lives plus some special discounts! We welcome you and your new bundle. If that new baby stage is over for you, scroll down to our contribution from our sister sites that have nothing to do with babies and infant feeding for recipes, relationship stories, and reviews.
How will parenting change you? Let me count the ways. We’ll start with 4 for now though.
Whether everything went according to the serene picture in your head or nothing like it at all, becoming a new parent is an experience like no other. Largely because all the preparation in the world doesn’t really prepare you and before you know it, parenting is sink or swim.
So you start swimming. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep SWIIIIIIIIIIIIIMING!
The reality is no matter how much you envisioned being a perfect parent, you will fail. I know, not very encouraging. But the sooner you accept that, the better it will be, you are not going to ever be a perfect parent. Parenting will change you and though you won’t be a perfect parent, you ARE the perfect parent for your child(ren). Flaws and all. There are glorious, amazing moments in parenting that will take your breath away. There are sweet, tender moments in parenting that will make you smile and treasure the little things. And yes, there are horrible, nightmarish moments in parenting that will cause you to question what you were thinking getting into this gig in the first place. All of the moments need the other moments.
Three ways parenting will change you:
You will redefine a good night’s sleep. And you’ll be amazed at how little can feel so good. Four months into parenting our second daughter, who had a personal vendetta against sleep, we had our first night with 4 hours in a row. Plus another 2 after that. It was amazing. I celebrated. Never mind that a year before a good night was 10 uninterrupted hours of sleep.
Clean takes on a new meaning too. So just how much like sour milk does that shirt you wore yesterday smell? On a scale of 1-10 if it’s a 7 it may likely pass as wearable.
You will need more storage on your phone. Sure, it’s popular to be annoyed with your friends posting pictures and videos of their kids all the time on social media but, OMG, you should have seen the way she discovered her fingers! You’re going to need more room on your phone.
Patience for yourself. At least I hope parenting changes you this way. If you are a perfectionist, this is particularly hard. In the end though, if you wouldn’t want someone treating your child the way you treat yourself, then you’re going to need to model that with how you treat yourself. Patience is key.
You’ve got this. You will keep swimming.
And for some of the more fun parts of parenting a newborn, see these 12 signs that you’re breastfeeding a newborn here.
Scroll down for more support for new parents, a great coupon code (20% off!) for a top that will convert all your shirts into breastfeeding tops, and for topics well beyond those baby days, see the sections from our sister sites OurStableTable.com andBeyondMoi.com.