Caramelized Delicata Squash and Fennel For Leakies

by Carrie Saum

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Seasonal eating.

Ugh.

I hate the buzz phrases and the pressure it brings to conform.  Like, really really really hate it.  Sometimes I want pineapple in December, okay? And I actually love a pumpkin spice latte in June. SO  LAY OFF ALREADY.

Except, I know two things:

1) Seasonal foods are typically cheaper.
2) Seasonal foods actually provide nutrients that you need to give your body the fuel it needs to get through the season you’re in.

For instance: Delicata squash is in season from early fall through early winter.  It’s chock full of vitamin C, iron, and calcium.  Vitamin C is really important for fighting off  colds and sickness, which are rampant in the fall.  Iron and calcium are also important, especially to a nursing mom.  It’s also fairly inexpensive, especially if you pick it up at your local market.  For about $1.00 a pound, this sweet gourd packs a powerful nutritional punch.

It’s also my most favorite thing about fall.

Delicata squash is so easy to prepare.  No peeling, minimal de-seeding, and it makes a great addition to any fall spread, including Thanksgiving. Throw in a little fennel and you have a great, balanced dish with a hint of natural sweetness. It is filling and great fuel for your nursing body.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 delicata squash, de-seeded and sliced (no need to peel!)
  • 1 large fennel bulb, cut in half and sliced
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp pink himalayn salt
  • 2 tsp rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fennel fronds (the soft, feathery green things that sprout out of the the fennel bulb)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (more for spicy)

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, place fennel, delicata squash, and rosemary.
  2. Add coconut oil, and stir quickly.  Add salt and red pepper flakes and mix again.
  3. Spread squash and fennel out on a large baking sheet, and try to get as many pieces to lay as flat as possible.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring once.
  5. Remove from oven and garnish with a little more salt and fresh fennel fronds,
  6. Eat immediately and enjoy! Or save for later and mix up a salad with some quinoa, spinach, and dried cranberries.

Please, eat your pineapple in December, and drink your pumpkin lattes in June.  WHO CARES?!

Bottoms Up,
Carrie

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Click here to view Our Stable Table’s full recipe with a video included for guidance!

If you love this recipe, you might like this recipe for Brown-Butter Apple Crumble or these Mediterranean Tabbouleh on Our Stable Table.

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Carrie Saum, headshotCarrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices and health knowledge. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical and service fields.
With background in paramedic medicine, Carrie spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. As an AWC, Carrie currently coaches her clients and their families about topics including nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and the voice behind OurStableTable.com. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.
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Fennel and Sausage Breakfast Casserole for the Milky Mom

by Carrie Saum

Mornings are nightmares in my house.

Even before having a baby with some extra needs, I struggled to feel like a human before 10:00am. I know now that I need thyroid support. I need extra vitamins B and D. I need sleep. I need no talking until coffee has kicked in. I need to wake up slow with a silent, sweet cuddle from my toddler.

LOL. I know. These things will never happen.

But I do know what I absolutely need to be a good person during the rest of the day: Breakfast.

I also know I need extra protein and veggies in the morning. I have a hard time taking care of myself. This is NOT NEWS. But I have a specific behavior that pops up when I start to feel overwhelmed and stop taking care of myself.

What is it, you ask? Well, I eat trail mix. For every meal. With a side of coffee. (Or maybe coffee is my main meal and trail mix is a side?)

I started the trail mix/coffee routine when I was exclusively pumping. I ate a limited diet in order to help my son thrive. Nuts, beans, and seeds, thankfully, were never an issue for either of us, so I kept a bag of homemade trail mix next to my pump and snacked while I pumped. I also ate other things, like gluten-free toast and quinoa and oats with a side of salad for breakfast. I ate bags of frozen veggies sautéed in olive oil and topped with an over-easy egg, (until my son reacted to the egg through my breastmilk).

When the challenges I faced far outweighed my capacity to cope, the first thing to go was breakfast. Those simple, warm, fueling meals turned to snack and convenience foods. Which was TOTALLY OKAY for that season in life. I was in full survival mode and I give myself a total pass.

But the reality is this: I need a hot breakfast to be at my peak, and really to even start climbing that mountain. I can handle prepping and eating a hot breakfast every morning, now. I have the capacity.

So, last week when I started eating trail mix, a tiny warning bell went off in my head. Taking care of myself often gets filed to the bottom of the pile when work, family, and community are all scrambling for my attention. Which is crazy because food is kind of My Thing.

I have compiled a list of ways I can restart and ensure my path to self-care. Yours might look different, or there might be more steps, or there might be fewer.

  1. Eat a hot breakfast.
  2. The end.

The easiest way to I’ve found to consistently care for myself is to eat a hot breakfast. I prep a breakfast cassarole on Sunday and portion it out for the rest of the week. Then I reheat it in the toaster oven and eat it while it’s piping hot not ice cold.

FrittataCloseUp

Ingredients:

  • 12 eggs
  • 1 cup cheese (I prefer parmesan or asiago, but any cheese will do)
  • 1/2 cup half and half, or milk of your choice
  • 1 lb of browned sausage or cooked bacon, crumbled (I prefer mild Italian sausage, but you can skip meat altogether to make this vegetarian.)
  • 1 medium onion, diced and sauteed
  • 1 large fennel bulb, sliced and sauteed
  • 12 oz chopped broccoli
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes or 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 bunch of swiss chard or spinach, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tbsp of fresh herbs of your choice, or 1 Tbsp dried herbs. (I use rosemary, basil, from my garden, and fennel fronds from the bulb if available.)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. Whisk together eggs, milk, herbs, salt, and pepper.  Mix in shredded cheese.
  2. Add protein and veggies, and mix thoroughly.
  3. In a large, greased baking dish, bake at 350 degrees for one hour, or until the middle is cooked all the way through.
  4. Remove from oven and serve immediately.  Cut into individual portions and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
  5. To reheat: Place in the oven or toaster oven for 12 minutes at 350 degrees and eat.

I am a better person with this method.  I am a nicer mom and functional human for at least three hours of the day. Until it’s lunchtime, but that’s another post for another day.

Take Good Care,
Carrie

*Note: It’s important to point out that most women aren’t going to need to eat food with the intention of upping their milk supply, if everything is working the way it is supposed to, your baby will know how to up your supply just fine themselves. Skin-to-skin and feeding on demand are the best ways to increase breastmilk supply to meet your baby’s needs. (Concerned you have low supply? Read this to help figure out if it is something you need to be concerned about.) For those women, galactalogues just happen and they don’t need to think about it. But some women, like me, do need a boost. As a mom who ended up exclusively pumping and indeed having low supply such that I ended up on medication solely to increase my milk production, I know what it’s like to look for anything, anything at all that would help my body make even just a little more milk to help feed my baby. With the support of my health care providers, we tried everything. It becomes “I will eat all the cookies, I will drink all the shakes, I will eat all the parfaits!” if it even just makes me feel like I’m doing something to address the low supply struggle, it is worth it.

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If you like this recipe, check out this  recipe for Garden Vegetable Frittata or Brown Butter Apple Crumble Cake  over on Our Stable Table.

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CarrieHeadshotCarrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices and health knowledge. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical and service fields.
With background in paramedic medicine, Carrie spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. As an AWC, Carrie currently coaches her clients and their families about topics including nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and the voice behind OurStableTable.com. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.
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You Are Gold — A Letter To My Son’s Milk Donor

Dear Allison,

Thank you for giving my son life.

ThrivingOnDonorMilk

My unlikely squishy baby.

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.

Thank you.

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.

LastDonorBottle

My son’s last bottle of Allison’s donor milk from Texas.

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.

You gave my son seven months of milk.  Seven months to heal and thrive without taxing his little body even more.  Seven months of weight gain. Seven months of knowing he had all the milk he needed and more.  You gave me seven months of relief knowing my son would not just live, but he would thrive. Seven months of a little more sleep, a little less stress. Seven months of hope.
Donors

Three of my closest friends, years before we had babies, on the night before my wedding. Each of them gave their milk to my son. Allison, the woman in green, was our main donor.

I know our friendship is life-long and this donor bond goes deeper than words can express.  But I also know you.  You with your elegant grace, generous heart, deep well of love, creative time and resource management, and desire to change the world in your strong, quietly fierce way.  I know you.
And I know you would have done this for anyone.
You, my alchemist soul sister, are pure gold.
With love and gratitude,
C
P.S. ~ My son received milk from a total of six different women over the course of 14 months, all of whom I want to acknowledge and thank from the depths of my mama soul:
  • Two friends in Texas (including his main donor, Allison)
  • One visiting friend from England (and sister to Allison)
  • My BFF who supplied milk for several months after our main donor could not continue.
  • My midwife who learned she was pregnant about an hour before my son was born and donated her baby’s colostrum.
  • A friend of a friend I met only once, but for whom I feel much gratitude.
 _________________________________________________________________________If you like this post, check out How Jimmy Fallon Saved My Morning Milk and I Am A Sh*tty Friend over on our sister site, Our Stable Table.


IMG_2895Carrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices and health knowledge. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical and service fields.
With background in paramedic medicine, Carrie spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. As an AWC, Carrie currently coaches her clients and their families about topics including nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and the voice behind OurStableTable.com. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.
 
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Strawberry Fennel Salad

by Carrie Saum

It’s springtime, which means everything is blooming, alive, and vital. My body starts craving fresh green veggies, berries, and other seasonal vegetables. One of my favorite salads for this late spring and summer?  Strawberry and fennel with baby kale and goat cheese.  Salads are fast, easy to prep and it doesn’t take much to make them a little fancy.

Getting enough green leafy veggies can also be a challenge for breastfeeding or pumping mamas, and we need those powerful plants to bring nourishment to our babes. Iron is a key component to maternal and infant health, and pregnancy and breastfeeding can take a massive toll on our iron stores. It’s important to keep that in mind as we care for our tiny people and also care for ourselves.

One key component of iron absorption that is commonly overlooked is the necessity of vitamin C. Vitamin C plays a powerful role in assimilation of iron in the body. Think about it this way: Your body produces milk, but the milk doesn’t do much without a way to move it. We use our babies mouths or breast pumps to deliver the milk to the right place so it can be utilized.   In the same way, iron needs vitamin C to deliver it to our bodies’ cells for maximum benefit.  (If you’re interested in learning more about the important role of iron and vitamin c, read this great info from the CDC.)

This salad uses plenty of fresh, iron-rich green veggies, and seasonal strawberries, which are loaded with vitamin C. The addition of fennel provides a gentle boost to your milk supply as well as slightly sweet, bright crunch with a hint of licorice flavor that makes all of the flavors pop.

FennelLactationSalad

If you’re steering clear of cheese, I suggest ripe avocado to add creaminess and healthy fat.  I also have a bottle of pomegranate balsamic vinegar that I use for things like this.  As far as berries are concerned, I tried this with blueberries because we went berry picking last summer and found ourselves with five pounds of blueberry goodness.  IT WAS AMAZING.  I regret not getting a photo of it. But strawberries are a great addition to this salad, and have enough vitamin C to help your body absorb the iron in the greens.

If you use baby kale, this salad stays fresh for 48 hours in the refrigerator, so it’s convenient to make one large salad and snack on it for a couple of days. If baby kale is too much for you or your little one, try baby spinach for a milder flavor and tender texture. It just won’t keep longer than a few hours once it’s dressed.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups baby kale (Baby kale is more like spring greens and less like…kale.)
  • 10 fresh strawberries, sliced and halved
  • 1 small fennel bulb, sliced thin (I recommend a mandolin)
  • 3-4 oz goat cheese crumbles, or one small avocado, diced
  • small handful of microgreens (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds (optional)
  • red wine vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • Herbs d’Provenance
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation:

  1. Combine all prepped produce in a bowl.
  2. Top with goat cheese and herbs and chia seeds if you’re using them.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegars. Finish with a few shakes of salt and pepper.
  4. Let everyone know you’re a salad magician.

We don’t need to make this harder than it absolutely has to be, mamas.  Keep it simple, easy, and tasty.  The fact that it’s packed full of nutrition just makes it that much better.

It’s Not Easy Being Green,
Carrie

If you like this recipe, check out this Kale Waldorf Salad or Roasted Cauliflower Soup over on Our Stable Table.

*Note: It’s important to point out that most women aren’t going to need to eat food with the intention of upping their milk supply, if everything is working the way it is supposed to, your baby will know how to up your supply just fine themselves. Skin-to-skin and feeding on demand are the best ways to increase breastmilk supply to meet your baby’s needs. (Concerned you have low supply? Read this to help figure out if it is something you need to be concerned about.) For those women, galactalogues just happen and they don’t need to think about it. But some women, like me, do need a boost. As a mom who ended up exclusively pumping and indeed having low supply such that I ended up on medication solely to increase my milk production, I know what it’s like to look for anything, anything at all that would help my body make even just a little more milk to help feed my baby. With the support of my health care providers, we tried everything. It becomes “I will eat all the cookies, I will drink all the shakes, I will eat all the parfaits!” if it even just makes me feel like I’m doing something to address the low supply struggle, it is worth it.
IMG_2895Carrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices and health knowledge. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical and service fields. With background in paramedic medicine, Carrie spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. As an AWC, Carrie currently coaches her clients and their families about topics including nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and the voice behind OurStableTable.com. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.

 

 

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Milk-Boosting Blueberry Parfait

*Note: It’s important to point out that most women aren’t going to need to eat food with the intention of upping their milk supply, if everything is working the way it is supposed to, your baby will know how to up your supply just fine themselves. Skin-to-skin and feeding on demand are the best ways to increase breastmilk supply to meet your baby’s needs. (Concerned you have low supply? Read this to help figure out if it is something you need to be concerned about.) For those women, galactalogues just happen and they don’t need to think about it. But some women, like me, do need a boost. As a mom who ended up exclusively pumping and indeed having low supply such that I ended up on medication solely to increase my milk production, I know what it’s like to look for anything, anything at all that would help my body make even just a little more milk to help feed my baby. With the support of my health care providers, we tried everything. It becomes “I will eat all the cookies, I will drink all the shakes, I will eat all the parfaits!” if it even just makes me feel like I’m doing something to address the low supply struggle, it is worth it.

 parfait

I think it’s safe to say spring is here. This season in the Pacific Northwest is unpredictable, but stunning. I’m loving all of the colors coming to life right outside my window. Right now, I am enjoying an unusually cloudless sky, windows open, and sunlight so bright it almost hurts my eyes. The birds chirping happily away and the daffodils poking their faces up to the sun makes for a rare gem of a day.  It’s spectacular.

In addition to craving the watery spring sunshine, I’m also craving certain things with the change of seasons. Like berries. Spring reminds me to fall in love with all things new and fresh and vibrant. I’m also craving ease, which is hard to come by at the moment. Because motherhood. It seems I’m always burning the candle at about 6 different ends, and I’m toast by the midday. Here’s something easy, healthy, and nutrient dense for a healthy, milk boosting snack. Or breakfast, lunch, dinner. Did I mention it’s easy? Because it is. And fabulously satisfying.

Did I mention I eat this all the time? Honestly, I just can’t get enough of it this time of year.

Ingredients

1/2 cup plain organic Greek yogurt (full fat ya’ll)

1/3 cup blueberries or other seasonal berry (I picked some last year and put them in the freezer.  They thaw really well in this recipe.)

1/4 cup unsalted, raw pecan pieces

1/4 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut

1 Tbsp raw honey, divided (Raw honey is great for allergies, and immunity.)

2 tsp flax seed meal

A few sprinkles of cinnamon

Spring time cheer

Directions:

1) Layer in this order: yogurt, flax meal, blueberries, coconut, pecans, cinnamon, a small drizzle of honey.

2) Repeat step one.

3) Eat it.

You can use any yogurt you’d like, but keep in mind that the more nutrient dense your food is, the better you’ll feel. Greek yogurt is a great, nutrient dense option, and flax is really good for your supply. Your baby and your body will thank you for putting such tasty, healthy food in your body.

If you have blood sugar concerns, stevia works great in lieu of honey, just as long as you use it sparingly. I use it as well and have found that less is definitely more with that potent herb.

What are your favorite, easy lactation boosting foods for on the go?

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Want another sweet treat snack that’s actually good for you? If you can do nuts, you’ll love this Banana Cashew Ice Cream or Almond Joy Bars.

IMG_2895Carrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices and health knowledge.

Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical and service fields. With background in paramedic medicine, Carrie spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. As an AWC, Carrie currently coaches her clients and their families about topics including nutrition, weight loss, and stress management.In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and author. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.

 

 

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Healing Nips and Nipple Butter Recipe

by Carrie Saum
This post was made possible by the generous sponsorship of Wean Green Glass.

Pumping. Nursing. Weaning. Teething. Lip ties. Tongue ties. Thrush. Mastitis. Clogged ducts.

What do these have in common?

Well, for starters, they can all be painful. Super painful. When I started my breastfeeding/pumping journey, I experienced serious boob trauma. In all of the pre-baby breastfeeding classes I took, nobody prepared me for pumping, nobody showed me how to hook one up, and the diagrams in the pump directions resembled a more risqué version of Ikea furniture assembly than easy-to-follow steps. Add a poorly fitted breast shield on a double electric pump, a baby with a hard suck, partial facial paralysis, and upper lip tie and you have the recipe for some seriously ouchie boobies.

I look back now and laugh at my naïveté. After all, much of what I’d heard from other moms was that breastfeeding (and pumping) would be painful. I expected it. So when my areolae wore down to pale, oversized, paper-thin circles, I wasn’t surprised. When my nipples were a violent bright red, sometimes tending towards purpley-black hues, I thought it was normal.

IT IS NOT NORMAL.

Common, but not normal. And a sign of there being something wrong. Not that you’re doing something wrong but that there is something wrong.

For months, my breasts were off limits, even to myself. The slightest graze of my husband’s hand would cause me to shriek, and not in a good way. The needle-like spray from our low-flow shower converted me into a stinky land dweller. I white-knuckled my way through each pumping or nursing session, telling myself that this level of pain seemed excessive and prolonged, but gosh, it was supposed to be this way, right? RIGHT? Even though I had been evaluated by FOUR lactation consultants, none of their suggestions seemed to help. I began combing the internet to figure out how to make feeding my baby less painful because this just was not working.

After correcting my son’s lip tie at 8 weeks, nursing became slightly less painful. (Wonder if your little one has a tongue or lip tie? Check out these basics of tongue and lip ties here.) I wanted to enjoy it. I loved the cuddles and sweet stares between us. But damn it, my boobs still hurt! Because of some other medical issues my son faced, I still pumped 50% of the time. I wised up and began using coconut oil to lubricate my breasts during pumping sessions. I changed out my breast pads every day. I washed and sterilized all of my pump parts regularly. I soaked my bras and nursing tanks in an apple cider vinegar solution before laundering them in order to kill all of the milk/saliva/sweat bacteria. And still…the pain was nearly unbearable.

I asked our doctor, who is also our midwife, to take a look at my breasts at my son’s four month check up. She called in another one of the midwife-doctors for a second opinion and they were both visibly pained by what they saw. My doctor suggested trying a different type of breast shield, which I ordered that same day, and manuka honey breast pads for my nipples and aureolas.

Turns out, the manuka honey breast pads are very spendy. I bit the bullet and purchased them anyway. I was desperate. After $20-ish and a week of use, my boobs started to feel so much better. I showered with abandon. I slept without breast pads. Nursing felt remarkably less painful. My husband touched my breasts and I almost enjoyed it. However, I still had a long way to go before they were healed up enough to lose the super-sensitivity.

Since I’m a mom on a budget, I set out to make my own raw manuka honey breast balm concoction. (It was still expensive, but more financially viable than the pads.) Initially, I was worried about putting honey on my breasts. Honey + baby = potential botulism. But cleaning the area impeccably (and I do mean impeccably) before nursing or pumping made it safe for my little guy. I created a simple recipe, used VERY clean utensils and pots, and made certain to keep the honey in it’s most raw state possible in order to preserve its antibacterial and healing qualities.

I applied this in a micro-thin layer in the morning during my son’s longest daytime nap, and again in the evening for a couple of hours before bed, making certain to wash thoroughly with soap and warm water before pumping or feeding. I also switched out my breast pads to avoid cross-contamination. Within two weeks, the super-sensitivity vanished. I enjoyed feeding my baby, softened at my husband’s touch again, and didn’t cringe when I accidentally bumped my boobs while changing my shirt or squeezing by someone in a crowded place…like our bathroom.

So, to recap:

Pumping and breastfeeding should NOT be excruciatingly painful for prolonged periods of time. But if it is, there’s help. Find an IBCLC, (which I did not do), and have your baby’s latch evaluated. Lip/tongue tie, thrush, suck, etc. They can help you. Also, have your pump properly fitted and ask for a tutorial by someone who knows all about it…like an IBCLC. Lastly, take care of your boobies. They are amazing, miraculous milkmakers and you will only use them in this capacity for a short, but critical, window of time. Take the time to care for them (and yourself) with kindness. Healing oils, balms, spendy nursing pads, whatever. It’s worth it.

YOU are worth it.

The Nice Boobies Healing Salve

Ingredients:

3 TBSP Raw Manuka Honey (I like Wedderspoon brand, available here.)

3 TBSP Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

1 tsp Organic Beeswax

1 tsp Rosewater

4 oz tin or glass container with lid, sterilized (we used Wean Green glass.)

Directions:

1) In a small, stainless steel pot, combine coconut oil and beeswax and stir on low heat until dissolved.

2) Take pot off burner and stir in honey. Once the honey is completely incorporated, stir in rosewater.

3) Immediately transfer mixture to container and allow to cool to room temperature. Cover with lid and store

away from direct sunlight or heat.

To Use:

1) Wash hands thoroughly. Scoop out a small, pebble sized amount with a clean utensil and warm between fingers to soften.

2) Apply a thin layer of salve to nipples and areola.

3) Cover with clean breast pad or soft cloth and bra.

4) Before nursing or pumping, CLEAN THOROUGHLY, and gently. (Botulism, people. And not like Botox.)

5) Put used breast pads immediately in the hamper to reduce cross-contamination.

*This salve is excellent for healing all kinds of ouchies. I use it on minor blisters, burns, and cuts. This has replaced our first aid cream.

** If the manuka honey is cost prohibitive for you, try sharing the cost with other moms and splitting a jar.

***If you are worried about your baby accidentally ingesting some of the salve, I successfully managed to keep my baby (who is allergic to almost all food) safe and uncontaminated. But please, only use this if you are comfortable doing so!

 

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What kind of nipple issues have you struggled with? What tips and tricks have you found help?
 

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Carri Saum Bio Pic 2

Carrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical fields. She has a background in paramedic medicine and spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet the health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. She has coached countless clients on topics such as nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and blogs regularly about healthy cooking via her blog, Come Kale or High Water. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.
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