Tension and Breastfeeding, How Relaxing Save Her Breastfeeding Relationship

by Vivian Muehlen
this post made possible by the generous support of KoalaKin.
Vivian & Luc KoalaKin

The author and her son.

 

I still wince when I think that I had to give up breastfeeding 5 months after my son was born, due to a myriad of issues ranging from low milk supply, tendonitis, mastitis and lower back pain. And that was almost 12 years ago!

When my second son was born, I was again 100% committed to breastfeeding, but now I also had a preschooler running around the house. Not only that, but I was again afflicted with mastitis (caused by a poor latch) and arm, neck and shoulder pain from breastfeeding my little guy 8-12 times a day. Wait! Wasn’t breastfeeding supposed to be natural? It was then that I realized that breastfeeding may be natural, but its not instinctual. I needed help ASAP!

I tried slings and wraps, but they didn’t work for me. They weren’t supportive enough and my son’s face always ended up not perfectly aligned with my breast, or his latch would slip as soon as I moved.

I was at my wits end, almost giving up, when I decided to create my own solution. As soon as I developed a halfway functioning prototype of the KoalaKin and began using it with my son, a flood of relief ran through me as I was finally able to relax a little bit. My son was supported, his latch was firm and I had not one, but two free hands. Not longer feeling any strain, I was able to give my boy all my attention. I noticed his teeny, tiny fingernails, his fine hair, and the insane cuteness of his little feet… Words cannot explain the feeling of empowerment, confidence and GRATITUDE I felt when I realized that after all these years of struggle, I was finally able to effortlessly breastfeed my child.

And best of all: I now loved just staring at him breastfeed, knowing I was giving him the absolute best. There’s no feeling like it. No pain, all gain.

One of the best pieces of advice I received in my breastfeeding journey, was that it was important to minimize stress as much as possible. When moms are stressed, their breast milk supply usually decreases dramatically. Also, some studies even show that elevated levels of stress also cause a defective let down reflex.

Paradoxically, breastfeeding in itself is actually calming. The hormone prolactin is released during breastfeeding, which gives mom a feeling of peace and tranquility. That being said, the worry ABOUT breastfeeding (is my baby getting enough, what, he’s hungry again?, when is the laundry going to get done?), causes stress amongst moms and may interfere with a mom’s ability to establish a good milk supply.

KK Jade Comp LR KoalaKin

Vivian created the KoalaKin to offer other women the kind of support she found she needed to help her relax during breastfeeding and reach her breastfeeding goals. To learn more about how the KoalaKin could support you and to determine if it is right for you, click here.

 

What I wish I had known on how to relax during this special time:

Don’t wait until your baby is crying. Nothing stresses out a mom more than hearing her baby cry. Fussiness is the first cue that a baby is hungry. This is the time a mom should calmly sit or lay down with her baby and nurse. Not waiting until the baby cries will greatly reduce feelings of stress and overwhelm.

Listen to calming music. Take a moment to pop in your favorite calming tunes. Don’t focus on what kind of music you listen to, focus on how the music makes you feel. Classical music may be relaxing to some, and annoying to others. I personally liked to listen to yoga music, which always drove my husband crazy!

Create a favorite breastfeeding spot. Be it a bright space by a window in your living room or a dimly lit corner in your child’s nursery, creating a favorite breastfeeding spot can immediately relax and calm a tired, overwhelmed mom. Again, choose a spot that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. That’s the feeling you want over and over again when you breastfeed.

Make sure you are seated in an ergonomic way. There is virtually no way a mom can relax if her body is feeling any level of discomfort. Back or arm strain can make a nursing session torturous, and therefore it is very important to ensure mom is comfortable, and can stay that way for the next 20-40 minutes. A chair with excellent back support and an armrest is a must. Breastfeeding pillows, slings or a KoalaKin can help support the baby’s weight, allowing mom to relax any areas of strain and enabling a more ergonomic breastfeeding position.

Prepare a light snack to eat while breastfeeding. Don’t they say “sleep when the baby sleeps”? Well, I’ll add to that and say “eat when the baby eats!” Keep a stash of healthy, convenient snacks, like trail mix, pretzels and hummus, healthy energy bars and fruits where you can just grab and go. Once the baby is latched on and contently nursing away, treat yourself to these delicious snacks. Since nursing sessions can take up to 40 minutes, moms can take their time and really enjoy nourishing themselves!

Read a good book or watch TV. After a good snack, there’s nothing better than indulging in a good book or favorite TV show. As much as breastfeeding can be bonding, it’s not practical to expect to stare into your little one’s eyes through every session any more than every meal with your romantic partner should be a candlelit dinner. Getting comfortable and enjoying something that has you looking straight ahead can also help relieve tension in the neck and shoulders when you have good support.

While breastfeeding is something we do for our babies, with a little bit of organization and practice, this can also be a time that moms can use to take care of and nourish themselves.

Thanks to the KoalaKin, I was able to bond more with my son, and most importantly, I was able to breastfeed longer than I would’ve been able to, because the KoalaKin helped ease the strain I was feeling.

I’m a big believer that a mom should use any tool she thinks might help her successfully nurse her baby. After all, breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful, healthy and natural things a mother can do with her baby. There isn’t any one tool that work for every mom or even with every baby for the same mom. Be flexible and willing to try new things and take care of yourself to better be able to take care of your baby. Relax, you’ve got this!

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The KoalaKin Hands-Free Nursing Pouch was created by Vivian in 2009 after she suffered through several very frustrating breastfeeding attempts, where a poor latch coupled with arm, neck and shoulder pain from holding her baby in the same position for 30-40 minutes several times a day, took away from the wonderful experience that breastfeeding should be.
Tired of the pain and frustration, Vivian decided she needed help fast and turned to products such as slings and wraps.  However, she quickly realized there was nothing in the market that addressed her needs … so the first prototype of the KoalaKin was born!  With the goal of becoming the product that provides the best possible breastfeeding experience, Vivian worked tirelessly with lactation consultants and other birthing professionals, and turned her early prototypes into the KoalaKin that is available today. 
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Party Like a Leaky to Celebrate 5 Years of TLB, Part 3!

 The Leaky Boob is turning 5 years old and we’re celebrating ALL MONTH LONG! To celebrate we’re collecting and sharing your stories along with collecting some of our favorite maternity, breastfeeding, and baby products to give as gifts to YOU Leakies. Each week our celebration includes a different birthday bash bundle of prizes from our favorite brands, presents for Leakies. AND we’re growing! Some of us aren’t breastfeeding or bottle-feeding any more (and you thought it was going to last forever) but you’re still a part of our community and you’re still nourishing and loving your family so we’ve grown to expand two more communities where we can talk about our highs and lows of that journey in a safe, judgment-free environment. Over on BeyondMoi.com we talk a lot about, well, everything, specially about parenting and relationships. OurStableTable.com invites everyone to find a seat at the table embracing that sometimes there’s a little wobble in one of our legs, making room for allergies, and creatively nourishing our whole selves with recipes and a lot of honest conversation. Our family is growing and we’re happy to share it with you!


Let’s party like a Leaky this month and #TLBsupportForward!

Bundle #3

Here is what’s included in TLB’s Birthday Bash Bundle #3:

Arm’s Reach ConceptsBeautiful Dreamer Cocoon – Retail Value: $140
The Arm’s Reach® beautiful dreamer™Cocoon will help your baby sleep better by continuing the feeling of the womb, cradling newborns closely and gently swaying in response to their movement. Gentle motion not only soothes but also improves digestion, so it’s ideal for fussy babies. Because the back is adjustable, it’s a great solution for little ones with colic or reflux. Naturally stimulates and entertains baby while awake. Facilitates naptime. Babies learn to control the hammock’s sway with their own body movements, which entertains while encouraging physical activity.

Ameda: Purely Yours Double Electric Breast Pump – Retail Value: $194
Whether you are returning to work or want a fast and easy pumping experience, the Ameda Purely Yours double electric breast pump, designed for daily use, is the ideal breast pump. The Purely Yours breast pumps combine hospital recommended technology with mom friendly features.  Offering the same great pump through retail locations (on-line and brick-and-mortar), insurance benefits, and WIC you can depend on Ameda to provide moms with the tools they need to feed their baby.

Bonus from Ameda: [email protected]’s T-Shirt! – Retail Value: $15
All proceeds from the sale of the shirt go to Mother & Child Health Coalition in St Louis.

ErgobabyNatural Curve™ Nursing Pillow – Retail Value: $70
The Ergobaby Natural Curve™ Nursing Pillow gives you the enduring support you need to relax, nurse comfortably and bond with baby.

LILLEbabyCOMPLETE All Season Baby Carrier – Retail Value: $140
The LÍLLÉbaby COMPLETE baby carriers combines more carrying positions, lasts longer, and includes more features than any other baby carrier. The best of both worlds, this versatile hybrid is ready for whatever comes its way. Featuring an exclusive temperature-control panel that easily zips-up for warmth and zips-down to expose cool, breathable, 3D mesh. It’s lightweight, road-ready and built for daily use—be it in the brisk fall winds or blazing days of summer.

MotherloveMalunggay Breast Milk Supplement – Retail Value: $26
Indigenous to India and the Philippines, Malunggay is known as the “miracle tree” and is widely recognized for its nutritional benefits. It has been used for generations by breastfeeding women to help increase breast milk supply. Can be used during pregnancy.

Mamma-Kin LCCKoalaKin, Hands Free Nursing Pouch – Retail Value: $90
Breastfeeding may be natural, but it’s not always intuitive. That’s why we created the KoalaKin, Hands Free Nursing Pouch®… a unique sling that allows moms to perfectly position babies for nursing, giving them easy and inconspicuous access to the breast with minimal strain on the body, and freeing up your hands so you could stay active with older children and other interests.

The Dairy FairyThe Arden All in One Nursing and Handsfree Pumping Bra – Retail Value: $68
No mother in the land should be without the Arden All in One bra. Comfortable, beautiful and efficient. Nurse, handsfree pump, and adjust to fit your fluctuating breast size. Because you don’t have to choose between smart and sexy – you can have both, because you are both.

NuRooNuRoo Pocket – Retail Value: $60
The NüRoo® Pocket is a babywearing shirt that offers full coverage and mobility for moms practicing Skin-to-Skin Contact with their baby. It also doubles as a hands free carrier! Extremely easy to get baby in and out of, without wrapping, tying or knotting. The ‘cross and hug’ closures provide a custom fit as your body changes and your baby grows. The fabric is super soft, breathable, moisture-wicking and offers just the right amount of compression to ensure proper position and continued support for both mom and baby. It adheres to the sling carrier standards, which means it’s been tested up to 45 pounds. A 2014 Editor’s Pick from What to Expecting When You’re Expecting!

Molly’s Suds: Laundry Powder (70 loads) and one of our Wool Dryer Balls (set of 3) – Retail Value: $34
Comprised of only five earth-derived ingredients and formulated especially for sensitive skin, Molly’s Suds Laundry Powder is safe and ideal for your clothes AND your family. The super-concentrated powder is long-lasting and affordable, with just one tablespoon required per load. Just as effective as conventional brands and more effective than natural brands, without the use of harsh chemicals, toxins, fillers, carcinogens, preservatives or GMO ingredients. Works great in all water temperatures and hard water, and is septic- and High Efficiency (HE) washer-safe.

Replace the need for toxic fabric softeners with Molly’s Suds 100% hand felted Wool Dryer Balls, which last up to 1,000 loads, or three years, in the dryer, and reduce drying time by 15-30%. Sourced from humanely sheared sheep, our Wool Dryer Balls are compostable and antimicrobial, naturally soften fabrics, and are great for all laundry, including towels, comforters, clothing, baby laundry, delicates and cloth diapers.

Juno BluEsalen Breast Pump Tote – Retail Value: $185
The Juno Blu Esalen tote is a sleek urban alternative to the traditional breast pump bag. The trend-aware design makes this tote a hidden treasure for both the new and seasoned mother. The Esalen Tote’s sleek design is ideal for going to work, the park or on a play-date.

PebbleRainbow Bunny Rattle – Retail value: $22
This cheerful Bunny Rattle from Pebble is handmade and is bringing smiles to faces around the world. This fair trade product provides much-needed employment to mothers providing for their children in rural Bangladesh. Machine washable. 

Total Value of this bundle: $904

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Good luck to everyone!  Please use the widget below to be entered.  The giveaway is open from April 15, 2015 through April 22, 2015.  A big thanks to all of the sponsors of this birthday giveaway bundle for their support of TLB and all breastfeeding women; please be sure to take a moment to thank them on their Facebook pages for their show of support!

This giveaway bundle is for U.S. only. 

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KoalaKin Fall Giveaway

KoalaKin, with its one-of-a-kind hands-free nursing pouch, loves to support new moms in their journey.  Vivian, founder and creator of KoalaKin, wants to show her support by offering a KoalaKin nursing pouch in a free giveaway.  I’ve asked her to tell us a little about the other ways that she likes to support new moms:

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Vivian, creator and founder of KoalaKin.

 

TLB: For every product created, there is a story behind it, a motivating drive that moved a person to invest their energy, creativity, time, and resources to make that product.  What drove you to create the KoalaKin? 

Vivian: I’m all about making life easier for moms, especially in those first few months with their new baby. That is the most critical time for their breastfeeding relationship and I’ve seen SO many moms give up breastfeeding because it was too hard / complicated / time consuming / painful, etc…

It seems to me that many moms are willing to give BF a try, but if the level of “investment” or sacrifice is too high for them (always such a personal thing), they will give it up.

 

TLB: How can the KoalaKin help with this? 

Vivian: I created the KoalaKin to “decrease” that level of investment and sacrifice, in the hopes that this will help moms stick with it longer – until it gets easier and more manageable.

In other words, the KoalaKin is there to help get moms through the difficult times by perfectly positioning the baby at the breast, freeing up mom’s hands, promoting a healthy, ergonomic posture, and allowing moms to be more mobile. All in the hopes they’ll stick w breastfeeding for as long as they can / want. Because the longer they do it, the better off babies will be.

That’s what the KoalaKin is all about.

 

TLB: Are there other ways that you and KoalaKin are there to support moms? 

Vivian: Yes!  One thing I created for new moms is a guide on what to expect when breastfeeding their newborn (in the first 3 months).  And then there’s social media.  My desire is  to create a non-judgmental space where moms can gather and share information that will help them in their breastfeeding efforts / journey.

And here is where:
Facebook
Twitter
KoalaKin Blog 

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Vivian is offering one KoalaKin Hands-Free Nursing Pouch to one lucky Leakie!  
Color and size to be chosen by the winner
Retail Value: $89.99

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Koalakin Hands Free Nursing Pouch (5)

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Good luck to everyone!  Please use the widget below to be entered.  The giveaway is open from November 20, 2014 through December 1, 2014.  A big thanks to Vivian and KoalaKin for their support of TLB and all breastfeeding women; please be sure to visit their Facebook page or follow them on twitter and thank them for their support of TLB and this giveaway opportunity.

This giveaway is restricted to U.S. entries only.

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KoalaKin Giveaway

KoalaKin is committed to helping moms reach their breastfeeding goals. Whether it’s because of a poor latch, arm, back or shoulder pain, other kids to look after, or overall lack of support, too many moms are giving up breastfeeding before they are ready.  Vivian, creator of KoalaKin, was one of those moms and it is her sincere hope that the KoalaKin would be a helpful tool that assists nursing mothers everywhere as they strive to give their babies the absolute best.

 Vivian LR

TLB:  Hello Vivian.  It’s been a little while since we’ve had a KoalaKin giveaway – what would you like TLB readers to know about KoalaKin?

Vivian: I created the KoalaKin because of the difficulties I had when nursing both of my sons. I had everything, ranging from arm pain, poor latch, sore back and with my second son, another child to look after during the day. I tried nursing in slings and carriers, but I couldn’t get them to work for me, so I decided to create my own “sling”. I was so relieved and happy that I finally had something that allowed me to breastfeed without pain, that I showed it to lactation consultants at two local hospitals. They loved it! In fact, they made excellent suggestions for improvements and encouraged me to make more because they saw moms on a daily basis that were going through the same challenges I was, and therefore could benefit from my invention. And thus, the KoalaKin was born!

Koalakin Hands Free Nursing Pouch (1)

TLB:  What is the inspiration behind your brand name?

Vivian:  Babies love to be carried and moms love to carry their babies. It’s instinctual, which made me think of the animals that also carry their young. I realized that my nursing pouch mimics the way a marsupial carries their young. I then consulted with an Australian friend of mine on what would be a good name for my product. We realized several baby products have kangaroos in their names already. A wombat didn’t feel super warm and fuzzy. Plus, who would buy a product called “wombat kin”? And then we thought of koalas and I immediately knew that was the right name. Koalas are so sweet and they look adorable, I just knew it was the perfect name for my product.

TLB:  I understand that you have some exciting news to share!  Something about safety testing and a new product line?

Vivian:  Yes! We are very proud to have passed the ASTM standard for slings. This is a very stringent test that is conducted on the product to ensure moms and babies are safe when using it correctly. The KoalaKin has been tested for up to 35lbs, so we are confident even those moms with bigger babies can safely and comfortably nurse in the KoalaKin.

Over the last couple of years, we also heard from our plus sized mamas asking us to create a vest that would fit them too, and I am very excited to announce that since October, we have come out with a plus sized vest that fits moms sizes 16 and up.

TLB:  Where can our Leakies go to purchase this new Plus Size vest (and your other products too!)?

Vivian: The best place to purchase is on my website at www.koalakin.com. Alternatively, customers can also find the KoalaKin at www.babiesrus.com

TLB:  Christmas is right around the corner, and many of us are anticipating spending more time with family, which can either be wonderful or extremely difficult.  What kind of advice would you give a new mom who is having to face breastfeeding with their extended family for the first time?

Vivian: I know exactly how that feels, as I was breastfeeding a two month old incessantly during Christmas the year he was born.

I have 3 main advices for new moms during this festive, but potentially challenging time:

1) don’t hesitate asking for help. Many moms just try to do everything themselves, but it’s ok to relax and let someone else take the reins once in a while. And the important thing here is to let go of expectations, because other people will never do things the way we would, so don’t try to control the outcome of any situation. Just appreciate that you’re being given time to focus and bond with your little one.

2) don’t take too much on. This is not the time to have 20 people over for a formal sit down dinner. This is a recipe for failure and frustration. Let the grandparents host Christmas, or if you’re like me and don’t have any family in town, chose a simpler menu, something you know how to cook (this is not the time to experiment!) and you know the family will approve. I made a cheese fondue, salad and bought some smoked salmon and it was a huge hit. In fact, we’ve had it almost every Christmas ever since. You can keep it simple and still have a festive meal that everyone will love.

3) don’t be too hard on yourself. OK, so dinner got served 30min later than expected, or the mashed potatoes are now cold, or your baby is fussing and extended family is giving you all sorts of well-intentioned, but unwanted advice. I have this exercise that I do when I find myself in a potentially stressful situation called “What Am I Aware Of Now?”. I ask myself this question over an over and the answers go something like this: I’m aware of my heart pounding, I’m aware of a wonderful smell coming from the kitchen, I’m aware of my baby’s soft skin, I’m aware I’m irritated with Uncle Pat’s boring office party story, etc… This exercise helps me come back to myself when I feel like I’m being pulled in 10 different directions, and it really calms me down.

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 Vivian is giving away a KoalaKin, Hands Free Nursing Pouch of your choice.  Retail Value: $89.99

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 Koalakin Hands Free Nursing Pouch

Currently Leakies can find all KoalaKin items on the KoalaKin website.

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Good luck to everyone!  Please use the widget below to be entered.  The giveaway is open from December 10, 2013 through December 16, 2013.  A big thanks to Vivian and KoalaKin for their ongoing support of TLB and all breastfeeding women; please be sure to visit their Facebook page  or follow them on Twitter and thank them for their support of TLB and this giveaway opportunity.  You can also find KoalaKin on Pinterest!  Happy Holidays!

This giveaway is restricted to U.S. residents only.

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Mother’s Day Wishes- KoalaKin Hands Free Nursing Support Giveaway

Vivian Muehlen’s personal experience as a breastfeeding mom led her to create the KoalaKin Hands Free Nursing Pouch.  Now supporting breastfeeding moms everywhere through their sponsorship of The Leaky Boob, KoalaKin is giving away one of their mom-designed supports for one lucky Leaky.  Read on to hear from Vivian about the inspiration behind KoalaKin and her Mother’s Day wish for all moms this year.

TLB:  What should TLB readers know about your company?

Vivian:  My goal is to help mothers breastfeed longer and not give up before they’re ready, by eliminating some of the strain some may experience associated with breastfeeding. I developed the KoalaKin so that moms could better enjoy this wonderful time in their lives.

 

TLB:  What was the inspiration behind the Koala-Kin?

Vivian:  When my second son was born, I realized that breastfeeding was a little more challenging than the first time around. Not only did my arms, neck and shoulder hurt from the long nursing sessions, I now had a toddler to take care of as well. The demands of a life with a toddler and the increasing pain on my arms and back took it’s toll on my milk supply and I had to start supplementing with formula. I tried nursing in slings and wraps, but I was never able to figure out how to do it properly. Sad and disappointed, I visited with lactation consultants who told me I was not alone. In fact, while 80% of moms nurse their newborns in the hospital, only 13% are still nursing after 6 months due to overall strain and exhaustion. She also told me that almost 30% of pregnant women suffer from carpal tunnel / tendonitis and that this condition is worsened through breastfeeding. Both of those statistics shocked me. That night, at home, I decided I was going to try to do something about it. So I joined forces with lactation consultants and physical therapists and the KoalaKin, Hands Free Nursing Pouch was born (pun intended!!)

Not a sling and not a carrier, the KoalaKin is a breastfeeding positioner that allows for easy, safe and comfortable hands free nursing. It consists of a vest that a mom puts on much like a back-pack and a pouch that attaches to the vest for the baby. Moms can nurse completely hands-free eliminating the strain on arms, shoulders and back. The pouch also distributes the baby’s weight across mom’s torso promoting a more ergonomic posture. Positioning the baby at the breast like the KoalaKin does, may dramatically improve the baby’s ability to latch on and stay latched.

While I openly admire those mamas that can comfortably nurse in a sling, not everyone can. I developed the KoalaKin for all other moms to be able to have the same experience. The KoalaKin also provides a few advantages over a sling:

  1. it is fully adjustable to accommodate for different mom and baby sizes
  2. you can switch nursing sides with just one click of the pouch
  3. if your baby falls asleep after nursing, a mom can unclick the entire pouch from the vest and lay the baby down without waking her up

 

TLB:  What was your favorite mother’s day present?

Vivian:  I love Mother’s Day as it falls very close to my birthday (on some years, it’s actually ON my birthday) so it’s always a big celebration! I love plants and flowers, so my husband usually leaves with all 4 kids for a couple of hours in the morning (giving me some very appreciated alone time) and comes back with gorgeous plants and flowers that each of the kids picked for me. I love hearing the stories of how they chose those particular plants! Then we all go for brunch at a place of my choice. It’s a yearly family ritual and it never gets old!

 

TLB:  What do you wish for all mothers this mother’s day?

Vivian:  As we all know, family holidays can be wrought with all the drama that sometimes comes from unfulfilled expectations. I hope we as mothers can embrace the imperfection of life and find peace and happiness even when things don’t go our way. I always tell myself: “life right now, is exactly as it should be”. This is my wish for all mothers this Mother’s Day: to find love and enjoyment in what is, live in the moment and let go of expectations of what life “should” be like.

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Vivian is giving away one KoalaKin Hands Free Nursing Pouch to one randomly selected entrant, a retail value of $89.  From the KoalaKin website:

The most important thing when considering the best way to nurse hands-free is adjustability. The combination of a mother’s breast size, torso length and the baby’s size and length all contribute to the challenge of finding the perfect hands-free nursing aid.

The KoalaKin® has 3 adjustable straps, to accommodate for different mom and baby sizes. Unlike a sling, the KoalaKin®’s patented shoulder clasps were designed specifically to help you switch the baby’s position without having to flip the pouch, therefore making it easy to move the baby from side to side.

The KoalaKin®’s ergonomic back support straps also help eliminate shoulder, back and arm pain by evenly distributing your baby’s weight and fully supporting your little one while nursing. Our product is made with 100% breathable cotton canvas and 100% soft & cuddly cotton fabrics for your baby’s maximum security and comfort.

Currently Leakies can find the KoalaKin at koalakin.com.

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Good luck to everyone!  Please use the widget below to be entered and be sure to visit KoalaKin online to learn more about this great company dedicated to supporting moms in their breastfeeding adventures.  The giveaway is open from May 7, 2012 to May 14, 2012.  A big thanks to Vivian for her support of TLB and all breastfeeding women, please be sure to visit the KoalaKin Facebook page and thank them for their support of TLB and this giveaway opportunity.

Sorry, this giveaway is open only to shipping addresses in the USA.

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