Ask the Sleep Expert- Rebecca Michi- Mothers, Restless Toddlers, and Newborn Nap Schedules – Sleep In Arm’s Reach

The Leakies with Rebecca Michi
This post made possible by the generous support of Arms Reach Co-Sleeper

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We asked sleep consultant Rebecca Michi to come help us all get some more sleep and we asked the Leakies to share their current sleep struggles. Here are a few of the responses, followed by Rebecca’s support.

 

Dear Rebecca,

With my first baby my mother came and helped. It was nice to have her but at night she wanted to have the baby in her room to let me get more sleep. I was uncomfortable with it for some reason I still can’t explain but it was nice to get a little more sleep. She would comfort my daughter when she would wake, bounce her, give her the pacifier, change her diaper, and try to get her back down. If that didn’t work, she would bring her to me to feed. Several times a night it did work so I did get more sleep. But it never felt quite right even though I appreciated the sleep. My daughter is a pretty good sleeper and my mom says it is because she taught her to sleep as a newborn.

This time I know she’s going to want to do that again and I’m torn about it. Is this ok to do or are is it potentially causing problems? I’m just not sure.

Thank you for your help,

Conflicted mom-to-be again.

 

Hi Conflicted Mom,

How lovely that you have family who come and stay and help you with your newborn. Don’t worry, your Mom helping at night will not cause any problems. Having said that. Don’t do anything that is making you feel uncomfortable. Maybe have your Mom do this once or twice a week, or after the first week or two. If you’re feeling uncomfortable you probably won’t be able to relax and sleep, always trust your Mommy instinct.

~Rebecca

 

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Dear Rebecca,

Every night around 3am my 2.5 year old wakes up. I try taking her back to her bed but she’ll just cry and cry and I’m so tired I lay back down with her or let her get in bed with us. Sometimes she needs to go potty but not every time and she’s always very confused. If I let her in bed with me she’ll fall asleep and everything is fine but I wake up sore. If I take her back to her room she’ll be up repeatedly for the rest of the night. I don’t want to reject her but I need her to go back to her bed and sleep. How can we gently help her get there?

Sincerely,

3am Zmombie.

 

Hey Zmombie,

I would work on eliminating this wake up, as it is happening at the same time each night it is happening out of habit. That’s a good thing as we can work on breaking habits!

If she’s waking at 3am, you’ll want to set your alarm for 2:20am (sorry), go into your daughter and rouse her from her sleep, you don’t want to wake her, just bring her into a lighter sleep. Put your hands on her and rub her tummy/back until you see her move or make a noise. When you do, stop and creep out the room. She shouldn’t wake at 3am as she is going back down into a deeper sleep. Try this for 3 nights before seeing if she has eliminated the wake up herself. If she wakes as you expected her to you will need to wake her slightly more the following night as she wasn’t quite woken enough.

~Rebecca

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Dear Rebecca,

Naps, how do I get my 10 week old to nap somewhere other than on me? I love babywearing and I love holding my baby but sometimes I just need a break and would like to set him down to rest on my own or take a shower or something. He loves to sleep but only in my arms. At night he sleeps in the cosleeper next to me and I can transfer him pretty well after feeding but nap times during the day are an entirely different matter. It seems like he always wants to sleep during the day but it’s only in little bits here and there because if I try to transfer him he wakes up. I end up feeling stuck sitting there holding him until he wakes. Is there anything we can do or have we already made a bad habit we have to live with?

Trapped under a baby in the midwest.

 

Dear Trapped Momma,

This is very normal behavior for a young infant. I can guarantee that it will certainly not last forever. Sleep will really change at around 12 weeks of age (actually 52 weeks from conception).  At this point I would try for 1 nap a day in a swing or crib, the easiest is the first of the day. Don’t worry if naps are short, that is very normal as naps don’t develop until sometime between 4 and 6 months. In the meantime I would make sure you are swaddling your little one, making sure they aren’t getting overtired, dark room and have white noise playing as you work on a nap. You never know you may be able to pop them down whilst they are sleeping.

~Rebecca

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Be sure to check out Rebecca’s book Sleep And Your Child’s Temperament and don’t miss out on the opportunity to participate in her Sleep Academy here.

If you have a question you would like Rebecca to answer next time, leave a comment.

____________________

small Rebecca Michi121

 

Rebecca is a Children’s Sleep Consultant who has been working with families for over 20 years. She is a gentle sleep consultant who doesn’t believe in leaving your child to cry-it-out when teaching them to fall asleep more independently. She is passionate about helping children and their parents build healthy habits so they can finally get some sleep. By transforming drama into dreamland, her mission is to help your children—and you—get a good night’s sleep.

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Breastfeeding When You Are Sick

by Shari Criso, RN, CNM, IBCLC

This post made possible by the support of EvenFlo

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When it comes to breastfeeding, one of the myths that drives me absolutely crazy and could actually be dangerous for your baby, is the idea that if you as a breastfeeding mom are sick, that you should discontinue breastfeeding until you feel better.

This is advice that is often given to moms by their pediatricians or obstetricians and it’s actually the complete opposite of what you want to do!

When you breastfeed, your body passes along the antibodies of what you’ve been exposed to, directly to the baby. When you get sick, antibodies are created and immediately passed into your breastmilk. So what that means for you and your baby is that if you are breastfeeding and you have a virus or you are ill, your baby is actually immediately receiving specific antibodies for the exact illness you have at that moment. This will actually help keep your baby well, rather than make your baby sick.

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What CAN make your baby sick, is to stop breastfeeding during these times! Regardless of whether you are breastfeeding or not, your baby is going to be exposed to you, because you will be with your baby. They will have the exposure anyway, but without the protection of your milk they are much more vulnerable.

I’ll tell you a little personal story… when I had my first daughter my husband Joe and I got the flu really bad. We were sick in bed for days! We had this little 2 month old, and I was like “what am I going to do with her?” All we could do was put her in the bed between us, and just let her nurse, nurse, nurse, the whole time! Now, we were new parents at the time, and even with all the skills and knowledge that I had, we were still scared and nervous. I was so afraid she would get sick. That never happened! Here was this little one who just nursed away in this sick bed with my husband and me and never got sick herself.

This is very typical, very normal, and what you’ll usually see – and if they do get sick, the illness will be so much less than if you weren’t breastfeeding.

So whether it’s stomach flu, regular flu, or any other kind of illness, especially if you’re sick or anyone in the home is sick, make sure you continue to breastfeed, because that is going to be the best way to keep your baby healthy.

 

Shari Criso MSN, RN, CNM, IBCLC

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

Thanks for Evenflo Feeding, Inc.‘s generous support for families in their feeding journey.

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The Serious Injury No One is Talking About: Diastasis Recti

by Nicole Nexon, MSPT
This post made possible by the generous support of Belabumbum

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Sometimes I feel like exercise has become a dirty word in the mommy sphere. I can understand that.

We get this message that we need to do everything – work, raise babies, maintain perfect households, create Pinterest worthy projects, not burn dinner… and erase any shred of evidence that our bodies have created life. Society settled on the idea that skinny = perfect and the backlash from that led to a movement of pride in our bodies. Which somehow turned in to “ real woman have curves “ and all kinds of craziness about skinny girls and curvy girls and…

It’s out of control.

And what has been missed in all of this is the truth of the matter – it’s not about skinny. It’s not about having curves or not having curves. It’s not about “mummy tummies” or thigh gap or muffin tops.

It’s about being healthy.

And not “healthy” in a way that has been co-opted by people meaning “stop eating junk food you fatty!” Healthy in way that allows people to live their lives in a manner they choose. Healthy in a way that allows you to lift babies and chase toddlers and carry laundry wherever you need to carry your laundry. Healthy in a way that makes you feel confident, that lets you sleep well and go about your life.

What happens when you’re injured…and you don’t even know it?

When I was pregnant with my second daughter, I began to feel a pretty distinct pain by my belly button. It was so specific that I was fairly certain I was developing an umbilical hernia. I brought it up with my midwife and was told it wasn’t a hernia. I was developing a diastasis recti – a split between the muscles and muscular tissue that runs down the center of the abdomen. The pressure inside from an expanding uterus/baby was just too much for the abdominal tissue to handle so the tissue and muscles were separating.

With my first pregnancy, I worked in an outpatient clinic that was less physically demanding. With this second pregnancy, my current position required a lot of physical lifting as a physical therapist in a subacute center for patients who were not sick enough for the hospital, not well enough to go home. I already had work restrictions due to the physical requirements of my job; working with those restrictions AND dealing with a developing case of Diastasis Recti made the restrictions even more difficult.

It was in this position that I recognized a growing group of people in need of support, awareness, and healing of Diastasis Recti: new moms.

Here were these women, trying to juggle new responsibilities, healing from the changes their bodies went through during pregnancy and subsequent post-partum recovery and there was little to no support or even awareness about the problems that Diastasis Recti presented.

Diastasis Recti can affect your body in some pretty drastic ways.

  • -Incontinence
  • -Irregular bowel movements,
  • -Lower back pain, spinal or hip injuries due to your abdominal muscle’s inability to support your body when you’re lifting or bending
  • -Pain during sexual intercourse
  • -Increased chance of sciatica or disc issues
  • -Increased chance of umbilical hernia
  • -Postural instability due to poor strength of the abdominal muscles

The effects are numerous.

Now it was MY body that was going to need to be supported.

My body that was going to need help carrying a car seat. A baby. My toddler. The laundry.

My body that was going to be more prone to injury- that would need me to completely rethink how I went about my day. I worked out through my pregnancy because I knew what was ahead of me. I knew my core was going to be compromised. I wanted to achieve a VBAC and I knew I would need endurance (among other things) to prevent a repeated OR experience. I went back to my books and read studies on exercise efficacy. I reviewed exercise programs for pregnant women, post partum women, and people who had just had abdominal or back surgery. I had a plan, and I HAD to be as physically strong as I could when I returned from maternity leave so I could perform my job effectively.

I ended up with a VBAC, a baby girl, and a three-finger diastasis.

*when I say “three-finger diastasis” I am describing how many fingers I can horizontally fit across the tissue separation. To find this, lay on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift up your head slightly and contract your abdomen muscles gently. Find your belly button and make the “scout symbol” with your fingers…see how many you can fit in there. i.e. 1 finger, 3 fingers, etc. Check the same line down by your pelvis, and again up towards your ribs. Different points along your abdominal muscles may be different fingers of separation.

scale imageI feel blessed that my passion and my education allowed me to understand what my body needs to function well and heal from my condition. I am grateful for my colleagues and friends with whom I can discuss ideas or count on to help me with the hands-on techniques I can’t perform on myself. I know I am lucky to have access to the information that I have.

I want other women to have this valuable access to connections and resources that are out there for those recovering from Diastasis Recti.

I want women to know that sometimes “mummy tummy” can actually be caused by a medical condition.

I want women to know that the media are not medical professionals and there is a wide range of “normal” when it comes to our bodies.

I want other mothers to know that exercise and eating well are available to them.

I want women to know there are safe exercise routines that WON’T injure a body healing from Diastasis Recti. That recovering doesn’t need to be a series of scary, out-of-reach experiences. They don’t need to spend hours in the gym (Though you certainly can, if you enjoy it!).

Recovering means that you can take a walk, be it pushing a stroller or wearing a baby. You can do squats in your living room, jumping jacks, and eventually pushups and planks. (But until you’ve healed from your diastasis, it is best to do modified planks so that you don’t further separate your diastasis or have your abdominal muscles work against you or push on that separation while you’re healing!)

I feel sad when I hear people say “I can’t workout because…”

I feel sad because they are being taught that only the big efforts count.

That’s not true.

I work with people for whom sitting at the edge of their bed is enormous effort, and standing requires assistance of others. When you see the enormous joy on a person’s face brought by these small yet enormous victories, you begin to understand the true beauty of the movement our bodies are capable of. What may seem like a small victory may be an enormous triumph-a giant step towards hope and healing.

Misguided emphasis on skinny and perfect or the fear of never being _____ enough WILL STOP US in our tracks.

Enough.

You are enough.

It’s ok to start small.

It’s ok to fail.

It’s ok to not be perfect.

It’s ok to be YOU.

It’s not about meeting someone else’s standards.

It’s about taking care of yourself, teaching your family that our bodies are a great gift and we should treat them well. It’s about understanding that you are worthy of the time and energy it will take to begin, to HEAL, and to build healthy habits that facilitate that healing and well being.

Let’s get moving, because moving not only transforms your body, but it transforms your mind, no matter what size jeans you wear.

Some Exercises to Get You  Started:

Some Other Tips to Start Healing:

  • Sitting with the best possible posture: (Pull your belly button in towards your spine. Keep breathing while doing this. Pull your shoulder blades onto your back. Keep breathing!)
  • Kegels/pelvic floor exercises (contracting the pelvic floor muscles-the ones you use to stop your pee, if that makes sense!).
  • Standing on one foot while brushing your teeth while pulling your belly button in towards your spine.
  • Stretching before you get out of bed.
  • Taking a walk or parking further from the store.
  • You can climb your stairs.
  • Swim.
  • Dance.
  • Work out with a DVD program or take a class.
  • If pregnant, getting an abdominal/belly support band to help support your abdomen and relieve pain you may be experiencing.
  • If in post partum recovery, gently binding your belly to help pull the muscles together and support you in those first few weeks of initial birth recovery.

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Where am I now? I’m down to a one finger split at my belly button. I am confidently back to work full time with no restrictions. I’m still doing pelvic floor exercises and modifying my workouts to protect and strengthen my abdominal muscles so I don’t re-injure or reinforce the Diastasis Recti. I’m teaching my daughters that exercise and eating well are ways to treat your body with respect, to give it what it needs so when you need your body to work for you, it will. I’m teaching them that strong is beautiful, that healthy allows you to follow your dreams, that food is a tool and a pleasure and size is just another physical trait that varies from person to person.

Final thought… can we all agree to stop using the words “mummy tummy” ? Please? Your tummy is awesome, mommy. Growing a human is beautiful. A body that shows the results of growing a human is also beautiful!

For more information on Diastasis Recti click here.

*Want to know where to get the great active wear featured in this post?  In our video and corresponding exercise photos, Nicole is wearing the Belabumbum maternity and nursing active wear.

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nicole nexon image
Nicole Nexon is a mother of two, working full time as a physical therapist. Nicole has her master’s degree in Physical Therapy, and has been working for 9 years in both the inpatient and outpatient fields of physical therapy. She is a complete nerd when it comes to the human body and wants to encourage others to take the opportunity to treat their bodies well at whatever stage of life they are in. She is also a Beachbody coach and has found it to be a great platform to spread her mission of health and wellness. In her spare time, Nicole enjoys traveling and snowboarding. You can follow her at www.facebook.com/nicolerosenex )
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Ask the Sleep Expert- Rebecca Michi- Sleeping Through The Night, Transitioning, and Night Weaning- Sleep In Arm’s Reach

The Leakies with Rebecca Michi
This post made possible by the generous support of Arms Reach Co-Sleeper

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We asked sleep consultant Rebecca Michi to come help us all get some more sleep and we asked the Leakies to share their current sleep struggles. Here are a few of the responses, followed by Rebecca’s support.

 

Dear Rebecca,

Is it normal for a 4-5 year old to not sleep through the night yet? At 4, my son still wakes to come co-sleep with us and my 6 year old also goes through phases where she won’t sleep through the night. Is there anything we can do to help this? I worry because night wakings sometimes affect school. I think this is normal, but my husband doesn’t sleep well when they crowd us. My daughter says she wakes and is too scared to return to sleep alone. How can we make both my son and daughter feel more safe and/or my husband feel more comfortable?

I really appreciate your advice, thank you,

Feeling Crowded

 

HI Feeling Crowded,

We all wake during the night, up to 6 times is quite normal but it is no wonder you’re feeling a little crowded! I would make up beds for them on the floor of your room, don’t make them too comfortable, just a blanket and pillow is fine. When they come in to your room they can sleep on the floor but not in your bed. They may soon realize that their bed is much more comfortable than the floor of your room and want to stay in their own bed.

Hope that helps!

~Rebecca

 

Dear Rebecca,

My 17 month old co sleeps and always has. He lets me leave at night when he’s asleep for the night but I cannot sneak away from him at nap time. What can I do to start having him nap on his own?

Sneakily yours,

Ready To Have Nap Time To Myself

 

Hi Sneakily,

Nap sleep is quite different than night sleep. At the beginning of the night we all get into a deep sleep, this means that you can sneak away after getting him to sleep. He will get into a deep sleep at nap time, but it’s not as deep. Try shifting away after he’s been asleep for 10 minutes. Pop a pillow next to him so he has something to snuggle with. When you do shift away initially stay next to the bed, place your hands on him if you can see he’s coming into a light sleep (moves or makes a noise) jiggle him a little and help him back to a deeper sleep. Don’t rush off when he’s asleep, spend the time helping him remain asleep and he will have an easier time sleeping for longer.

Good luck sneaking away!

~Rebecca

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Dear Rebecca,

When is a reasonable time for a baby to stop nursing to sleep? I keep being told that if I give my 9 month old more solids he won’t want to eat at all at night. I feed him all he wants but I try not to push him after he stops showing interest. I don’t mind the night feedings since we co sleep and he takes the breast when he wants at night without waking me much. I have been told we should stop night feedings once a baby has teeth.

Do I need to start weaning him from nursing to sleep by a certain point? I really don’t want to but maybe I’m just trying to hold on to his baby stage.

Nursing to sleep and fine with it,

Holding On

 

Hello Fine With It,

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! He will need to fall asleep independently at some point, maybe before his first sleepover or when he goes off to college and I’m quite sure that he will have been sleeping independently before that!

You don’t need to stop nursing during the night because he has teeth, you don’t need to stop nursing through the night because he’s on solids, you don’t need to stop nursing through the night because someone told you to. You continue to feed during the night until it is no longer working for the both of you. When it’s not working, that is the perfect time to stop.

Enjoy what’s working for you!

~Rebecca


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Be sure to check out Rebecca’s book Sleep And Your Child’s Temperament and don’t miss out on the opportunity to participate in her Sleep Academy here.

If you have a question you would like Rebecca to answer next time, leave a comment.

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small Rebecca Michi121

 

Rebecca is a Children’s Sleep Consultant who has been working with families for over 20 years. She is a gentle sleep consultant who doesn’t believe in leaving your child to cry-it-out when teaching them to fall asleep more independently. She is passionate about helping children and their parents build healthy habits so they can finally get some sleep. By transforming drama into dreamland, her mission is to help your children—and you—get a good night’s sleep.

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TLB Comic: The Hoarders Guide to Babywearing + Bonus Frame

by Jennie Bernstein

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TLB Comic: “The Giant Book of Outdated Breastfeeding Advice” + Bonus Frame

by Jennie Bernstein
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Ask the Sleep Expert- Rebecca Michi- Night Weaning, Co-sleeping, and Crib Training- Sleep In Arm’s Reach

The Leakies with Rebecca Michi
This post made possible by the generous support of Arms Reach Co-Sleeper

Arms Reach Banner Logo

We asked sleep consultant Rebecca Michi to come help us all get some more sleep and we asked the Leakiaes to share there current sleep struggles. Here are a few of the responses followed by Rebecca’s support.

 

Dear Rebecca

How do I get my almost 2 year old to sleep through the night? She wakes 2-3 times a night to comfort nurse and I’m desperately in need of a fully night’s sleep. I don’t want her to feel rejected but I’m at the end of my rope. She naps once a day for about an hour and a half and our bed time routine is pretty simple (bath, pajamas, brush teeth, story, nurse, sing a few songs, bed). What can I do to gently encourage her to sleep more at night? I’m not ready to fully wean but I have to do something.

Thank you for any help you can give me,

Red eyed and bleary in Missouri

Hi,

Do you have someone who could help during the night? Could your partner help? If so, I suggest you sleep somewhere else for a few nights (if you’re bed sharing) or have your partner go in and help during the night. They need to help the same time you would have done, we don’t want her left upset for any duration of time, and help soothing her any way they can. When night weaning (recommended after 12 months old or older, before then babies often still need nutrition at night), expect strong emotions from your child. Your daughter will be mad, quite mad I imagine, but she is just that, mad and someone is with her the whole time helping her with these emotions. Habits are broken after just 3 nights so it shouldn’t take long for her to not expect a feed during the night.

Wishing You Rest,

Rebecca

 

Dear Rebecca,

My question is about a safe sleep space. My son is 3 months and growing out of his bassinet but I’m not at all ready to put him in his crib in the nursery, I want to keep him near me. What are my options? He’s pretty big, in the 98th percentile. I don’t have space to move the crib into my room and I’d like to cosleep but I’m not sure it is safe for us to bed share as my wife is a heavy sleeper and we have a queen bed. Should we get a king sized bed? Is there a cosleeper option for bigger babies?

Deeply grateful,

Craving Cozy

HI,

Take a look at a co-sleeper Arms Reach co-sleepers, they attach your bed, and are the same height as your bed. Your child is sleeping right next to you, but in a separate sleep space, this would be the safest option for you with a smaller bed and a heavy sleeping partner.

Happy Co-Sleeping,

Rebecca

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Dear Rebecca,

Our 1 year old sleeps for a max 15 mins in his crib. if he’s in bed with us we get an hour or 2, if we’re lucky we may get 4 hours. . Any little movement he does wakes him up and he can’t get back to sleep unless he’s nursing. I’m exhausted during the day and can barely keep up.

Something has to change.

Overly Exhausted mom of 2 + a pup.

Hi,

Make sure he has plenty of playtime in his crib each day, he needs  to be comfortable in his crib when awake to be able to sleep there comfortably.

Compare the mattresses, if they are different and I bet they are, try making the crib mattress more like yours. Some crib mattresses have a softer toddler side, you can also buy mattress toppers for crib mattresses. Some families put a quilt or blanket on top of the mattress but under the sheet to make the mattress more comfortable.

Making these changes to the crib can make the world of difference, if you are still struggling with wake ups during the night, you may want to take a look at some gentle sleep training techniques.

Best Wishes,

Rebecca

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Be sure to check out Rebecca’s book Sleep And Your Child’s Temperament and don’t miss out on the opportunity to participate in her Sleep Academy here.

If you have a question you would like Rebecca to answer next time, leave a comment.

____________________

small Rebecca Michi121

 

Rebecca is a Children’s Sleep Consultant who has been working with families for over 20 years. She is a gentle sleep consultant who doesn’t believe in leaving your child to cry-it-out when teaching them to fall asleep more independently. She is passionate about helping children and their parents build healthy habits so they can finally get some sleep. By transforming drama into dreamland, her mission is to help your children—and you—get a good night’s sleep.
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Babywearing: A Modern Adaptation for Parents

by Reina Christian, Baby K’tan, LLC

This post made possible by the support of Baby K’tan

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Parenting is hard. Sure, it’s been happening for a very long time but it’s still hard. Full of challenges. For some parents, more than others.

 

While many of us feel overwhelmed with the beautiful task that is caring for and bringing up children when we aren’t dealing with mobility difficulties or chronic pain, there are parents that face challenges that amplify the everyday aspects of parenting that can seem exhausting in their own right to untold degrees. Yet every day, parents with limited physical resources love and care for their children, fighting through their own pain to be present and connected with their precious little ones. Forging their own path in their parenting journey, these are some of the bravest parents you’ll ever meet who know the meaning of sacrifice and give new meaning to ingenuity.

 

For the love of their children.

 

For parents with physical obstacles, finding and creating alternatives for navigating their parenting terrain is essential. In a world set up to work for a certain privileged group, many parents that don’t fit that mold look for ways to make it work for them. Babywearing for adaptive parents opens up connection and closeness.

 

When something comes along that helps, it is celebrated.

 

Just at the very center of the Baby K’tan story sits inventor Michal Chesal’s son Coby. Born with Down syndrome, his condition was the reason Chesal went to work exploring a babywearing option that would be crucial for offering her son the best possible development during the early stages. The result was a carrier that supported his low muscle tone contrary to the other carriers available on the market 13 years ago.

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Today, the Baby K’tan Baby Carrier has grown to be a popular option for all caregivers wanting to carry their little ones. What Michal didn’t realize at the time, was that the product she invented for her son with disabilities would soon become an important necessity and mainstay for caregivers who themselves live with disabilities. For some, the carrier doesn’t just offer a more convenient way to carry a baby, but rather the only way to carry or hold a baby.

 

Parents with disabilities bring a special gift to their parenting: they understand the need for adapting.

 

The first time Michal realized that her invention could help parents living with disabilities was when her sister Chumi used the Baby K’tan to carry one of her nieces. Chumi suffers from a neurological pain disorder that doesn’t allow her to walk or hold weight on her legs. While in a wheel chair, Chumi can use the carry her many nieces and nephews safely without putting weight on her lap which can cause intense pain. Like Chumi, for parents and other caregivers utilizing a wheelchair, babywearing may provide a safe option for connection, bonding, and to be able to accomplish the practical aspects necessary for daily life. For some, this is the only way they can hold their babies.

 

“I knew I was creating something that would benefit my son, but I never imagined that it would become essential for some parents and never in my wildest dreams would have thought it could be the only way some parents hold their babies,” says Chesal, president and co-owner of Baby K’tan, LLC.  

Adaptive Parents 

When Samantha Rawagah gave birth to her baby boy, her father was delighted to know that he would soon have a grandson to do all the things that Grandpas are supposed to do with their grandchildren. Only one thing was standing in the way. Mr. Rawagah is a paraplegic and uses a wheelchair to get around. With limited use of his arms, he feared not being able to hold his grandson. Samantha’s solution was to put a Baby K’tan on her dad. The result was a match made in heaven – the perfect way for Mr. Rawagah to hold his grandson close to his heart.

 

Cristine Pyle knows all too well how Mr. Rawagah felt. While Cristine is not confined to a wheelchair, she too is learning how to parent with physical limitations. Cristine has a right hemiparesis that affects both her right arm and leg. She has no functional use of her right arm or hand and has limited mobility, balance, and endurance due to the weakness in her right leg. On her blog, AdaptiveMom.com, Cristine reports on parenting resources for differently-abled parents. With two little ones in-tow, she often relies on babywearing as a way to adapt. Cristine shared her experience of using the Baby K’tan here.

 

When Tabitha Caldwell was just a tot of 3 years old, she was the victim of a gunshot that damaged her spine. The injury resulted in the loss of use of her leg. As an adult, even though doctors warned that she may not be able to have children, she was fortunate to have carried and birthed two children who are now 9 years old and 7 months respectively. Tabitha relies on her baby carrier to assist her with her baby’s reflux as he needs to be held upright for a period of time after eating. Tabitha’s carrier of choice for her needs is the Baby K’Tan and she says that without it, managing his needs would be much more challenging.

 

These stories are at the very center of organizations like Ruckabye Baby, a non-profit whose mission is to provide baby carriers to wounded military members of all branches who have been injured in service to our nation, thereby giving them an extra tool to comfort, bond with, and care for their small children.

 

“Our intent is to not only get the carriers out to service members and their spouses, but to teach them, whether in person or via video conference, how to use the carrier correctly,” says Chelsea Cary, President of Ruckabye Baby. “We work with their care team where appropriate to help the injured service member thrive in this new avenue of parenting.”

 

Parenting with physical challenges is difficult but not impossible and with information, support, and community, there are options. Most importantly, nobody needs to go it alone. Together, we can share adaptive parenting techniques and stories, encouraging each other along the way.

 

Baby K’tan is proud to support the mission of Ruckabye Baby and all of the parents and caregivers with physical limitations and disabilities who rely on babywearing to raise their little ones. We see first hand the value of bonding through babywearing and what it means for all families, believing that everyone benefits.

 

While Chumi, Mr. Rawagah, Cristine, Tabitha and the clients of Ruckabye Baby all use babywearing as a way to assist them with acquired disabilities, using a carrier may be beneficial for those with congenital disabilities who are raising children as well. As a company whose product was invented for a child born with disabilities, the Baby K’tan family is pleased to know that the Baby K’tan Baby Carrier has been able to help other families who learn to adapt in similar situations.

 

All parents can use a little support. Adaptive parents show time and time again they are more than equipped for the task of parenting, we celebrate their strength, creativity, persistence, and most of all their dedication and love.

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To learn more about Baby K’tan, click here.

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Reina Christian, a South Florida native, is the Marketing Manager at Baby K’tan, LLC. After graduating from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Event Management Specialization and a Minor in Business she went on to work in marketing for a number of local non-profits and for-profits. Reina has a strong focus in social media marketing, her interest for which stemmed from the role that social media plays in our growing internet-based society. An emerging marketing leader with a strong passion for branding, she has helped propel Baby K’tan, LLC from a small startup into one of the more prominent companies in today’s growing baby carrier industry.
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Increasing Breastmilk Supply With Pumping For Milk Donation

by Jessica Martin-Weber and Dr. Pamela K. Murphy

This post made possible by the support of Ameda

Ameda brand

When my 4th baby was just a few months old, a friend of mine who had adopted a little girl from Vietnam asked me for breastmilk for her daughter. Her own milk supply was dwindling and after over a year of pumping after inducing lactation even before she had her daughter, her body was done producing milk and the effects of Domperidone had left her struggling with weight and energy issues. Initially they introduced formula but her daughter reacted with painful eczema head to toe. Convinced she needed breastmilk, my friend asked me to help her little girl.

Breastmilk truly is amazing and while many babies thrive on breastmilk substitutes, the healing nature of breastmilk is something that can’t be denied. We know it can help save lives, particularly the most fragile of our society. Giving breastmilk is giving the gift of life and health for another to thrive.

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I’ve always responded well to pumps, particularly if can hook up and get busy doing something else. But my supply was well established for my own baby and because I had a job that allowed me to bring my baby with me, I wasn’t pumping very much for her. I was more than willing to help my friend but I wasn’t sure how to get enough milk for two babies with my supply regulated for my one. I decided to see what I could do.

Having a tendency to easily develop over-supply and then have issues with mastitis, I knew I needed to be careful with this process. After talking with a couple IBCLC friends, I began to add pumping sessions to each of my existing feedings to slowly increase my supply and not interfere with my baby getting what she needed first. It worked so well that 2 years later with my 5th baby I intentionally increased my supply to donate to human milk banks and two other friends who had adopted little ones and with my 6th, as soon as my supply was established I began again for another friend’s baby and the Human Milk Bank Association of North America.

To get my supply up for those babies and to donate to a milk bank I started adding 10 minute pumping session to the end of my breastfeeding sessions. Then I started pumping one breast while feeding off the other. Two feedings a day I started increasing my pumping time to 20 minutes after my baby would finish which would be long enough to cycle through another let down. Sometimes this meant that I would pump with maybe just a few drips for 5 minutes or so or even without anything at all and then I would get another let down. The first feed of the day I always pumped one breast while my baby was on the other and in just a few days I had increased my supply so much I needed to pump into a large milk storage bottle. By 3 weeks I had added 2 full and one half pumping sessions in my day and by a month I was pumping one breast and feeding off the other 3 feedings a day (the first one in the morning was always my highest output) and then pumping 3 full sessions in between feeding my baby. By that point I was pumping enough milk in a day to completely supply another baby’s feeds and have some extra for back up. When I wanted to increase my supply again, I followed a similar pattern with extending my pumping times and adding a pumping session in the morning but it was adding an extra pumping session before bed that led to the morning pumping session to increase even more in just 3 days time.

Breastfeeding- Ameda

Here’s what I learned in increasing my breastmilk supply to donate:

Don’t focus on the output. The volume isn’t the point and it will take some time before you see it so focus on why you’re doing it, remember that babies don’t actually eat that much, and every single drop counts.

Baby helps. Your baby is your ally in increasing your supply. Skin-to-skin contact doesn’t just feel good and provide your baby with neurological stimulation that is beneficial for their development, it also tells your body to make milk. And if you can pump while they are feeding from the other breast, your body will be more willing to give up more milk.

Ask and it shall be given. Your body will give what it can when you ask it to. Unless you have some physiological barrier, if your body is asked for more milk, it will make more milk.

Hands-free. Pumping isn’t fun for most even it comes easily. Going hands-free can help free up your mind to focus on something else and help you feel more productive or at least entertained in the process.

Hands-on. It helps to be distracted but taking a little time with each pumping session to be hands on with some hand compressions at the breast (like a breast massage) can significantly increase your output and send the message to your breasts to make more milk. This video is an excellent demo of how to do so.

Be patient. The process takes time and responding to the pump may be an adjustment for your body. That’s ok. Don’t rush the process.

Wean off. When it’s time, whatever the reason (and please respect your boundaries and stop when you need to), wean off slowly. Supply increase is real and not draining the breast could lead to infection and mastitis is even worse than pumping so stop slowly.

Celebrate. This is hard work and it’s a sacrifice of love. Celebrate that. Celebrate babies getting human milk.

Not everyone is going to want to increase their supply to that amount for donate but every little bit helps. You may not be able to add so many pumping sessions to your schedule but you still want to donate. If you choose to donate, do what you can and resist the urge to compare with others. Every single drop really does count.

Dual pumping- Ameda

So you want to get started increasing your supply to donate, Dr. Pamela Murphy, PhD, CNM, IBCLC shares with us some helpful information and tips to get you started:

Will pumping to increase supply take milk away from mom’s own baby?

Not if you pump after breastfeeding or in the middle of a long period when your baby isn’t breastfeeding (like a long nap). If you are trying to stock up some extra milk for when you are apart from your baby or to donate, pump 1-2x a day after breastfeeding or in the middle of a long sleeping stretch. Your body will start to make more milk to meet your new demands, just like when your baby goes through a growth spurt and breastfeeds more. This cluster-feeding helps increase your milk supply! Just keep in mind, be patient, it can take a few days to see your milk supply increase.

How do our bodies just start making more milk when we start pumping more?

Hormones! The more often you drain your breasts of milk, the more milk they make! Breastfeeding and pumping stimulates the release of prolactin, a hormone that increases your milk supply. Isn’t is amazing how nature works! Check out this quick video to learn more.

Should moms take medication, herbs, or eat certain foods to increase their supply for donation?

Normally you do not want to take anything to increase you milk supply unless you have to. Very few moms need to take anything to increase their milk supply if they are draining their breasts often. Medications, herbs and foods that help increase milk supply are called galactogogues and work by increasing the hormone, prolactin, which helps your body make breast milk. If you decide that you want to try to increase your milk supply to donate more milk, talk to your healthcare provider or lactation consultant to figure out what galactogogue might work best for you. Keep in mind that galactogogues can cause side effects, health complications or allergic reactions for you or your baby. And most milk banks won’t accept milk from a mother on certain medications, including herbs used to boost supply. If you are donating to a family directly, be sure to disclose if you used any herbs or medications to increase your supply so they can make an informed decision. Here are some additional tips about your diet while breastfeeding.

What kind of pump should moms use? What should they avoid? 

Once you have established your milk supply use a quality double electric pump like the Ameda Purely Yours. It really depends though, every woman is different and responds differently to different pumps. Some actually prefer hand expression and get more milk that way but most will do better with a double electric. A single pump or hand pump may make it harder for you to keep up with your pumping schedule since it will take longer to drain both breasts at the same time. Here is some more info about choosing the right breast pump for your situation.

How to store milk intended for donation?

Check with your milk bank to see if they have special guidelines. Some general guidelines are to always use clean pump parts and wash your hands. Collect your milk and store in either a bottle or milk storage bag. Do not store milk from more than one pumping session in the same bag. Here is some additional information about pumping and storing your pumped milk.

Anything else to keep in mind regarding being a milk donor? Even if you cannot produce enough to donate remember that milk banks are always looking for volunteers. You can still do you part to help babies! If you are a social media user, follow non-profit milk bank accounts and share and interact with them, believe it or not this is an excellent way to raise awareness and increase the number of women who donate when they become aware of the need. Find a milk bank near you.

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Are you a breastmilk donor? How did you get your supply up? What tips would you add to our list to encourage other donors-to-be?

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Pam headshot- Ameda

Pamela K. Murphy, PhD, MS, CNM, IBCLC has worked with birthing and breastfeeding families for more than 15 years. Her lactation practice extends from the preterm/high risk infant to the healthy newborn both in the inpatient and outpatient settings. She has published research on pregnancy, nutrition and lactation in peer-reviewed journals including Breastfeeding Medicine, JAPNA, the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health and Advances in Neonatal Care. She is shown here with her once breastfed & beautiful daughter Audrey.
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Having Enough Milk for Your First Day Back

by Shari Criso, RN, CNM, IBCLC

This post made possible by the support of EvenFlo

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As you are preparing to return to work, you’ll be wondering how much should I be storing and how far in advance do I need to prepare. As with anything, it is always best not to leave things to the last minute and pumping enough breast milk for your return to work is certainly at the top of that list!

Start several weeks prior to your first day back at work and calculate how many ounces you will need for your baby on the first day as well as your freezer stash.  

For example, if you will be away from your baby for 8 hours and will need to pump 3 times for 3-4 ounces each, that will be 9-12 ounces of milk needed for your first day back at work. If you add another 10 3oz bags for your freezer this will add an additional 30 ounces that you will ultimately need. In this scenario, in total you will need about 40 ounces of milk to be fully prepared.

Waiting to store this until the last week before you go back, will make it really difficult to achieve, and in this case I would recommend that you only focus on getting the 9-12 ounces pumped that you will need for your first day. You’ll have to catch up on the freezer stash later. Ideally, you will give yourself a minimum of 4-6 weeks to start pumping and storing.

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Pumping 1-2 ounces per day in addition to the ½ ounce of milk that you will continue to feed to your baby each evening (just to keep the bottle going) will give you more than enough over the 4-6 weeks to have all the milk you need for your first day back at work, plus your freezer stash.

For some moms this is not a problem and for others you may find it difficult to pump in between feeding your baby to get this extra milk.

One of the ways to work around this is to not try and pump between feedings, but to express a small amount, like a ¼ of an ounce from each side prior to each breastfeeding during the day. If you’re breastfeeding 8 times, and you express a ½ ounce each time, you will essentially be storing 4 ounces per day.  This is even more than I am even recommending you do, if you give yourself enough time.

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To view the whole video, click here.

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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. See the entire library of Shari’s My Baby Experts Video Program here.
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