Thursday, May 31, 2007

Screening Sunscreens

This is a little off-topic because unless you are sunbathing in the South of France, your breasts are probably pretty safe. However, I came across this excellent article on choosing a sunscreen and I couldn't resist posting it. It is concise, informative and non-promotional. What I appreciated was a simple, clear explanation of which ingredients one should look for in a sunscreen - including the varying properties of each and which types may be skin irritants. Furthermore, the article even goes on to discuss which lifestyles may need more/less/which type of sunscreen and it does recommend some brands.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tips for Not Tipping the Scales

Thus far, I've gained about 13 lbs and I'm 34 weeks along. At this point, I'm on track to keep my weight gain to around 20 lbs. (she says as she thoughtfully munches her cranberry nut muffin.....) I've purposely tried to keep my gain to a reasonable amount simply because I was already overweight before I began all this baby makin' business. June 21st this year, I will celebrate my 7th Smoke Free Year. Quitting the cigs was simply one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life and therefore, I don't regret the 20 lb weight gain from that. Actually, I've realized that weight has no bearing on my overall happiness because the past 2 years have been my heaviest AND my happiness. However, I would still like to lose that weight eventually and that's why I've tried not to overindulge with the food during my two pregnancies. After I had my son, I lost the 22 lbs I gained with him within 3 weeks and I do credit breastfeeding for that. I went on to lose another 8 lbs down the line - again, I credit breastfeeding and a more active lifestyle now that I stay home full-time.

This article has some useful suggestions for shedding post-pregnancy pounds. I'm not putting loads of pressure on myself to shed the weight as quickly as I did with my son - I will just try to eat responsibly and allow myself a few treats. However, I have given myself an end date for all the indulgences I've been allowing myself during this pregnancy.

September 1st - that's the end of innocence around these here parts. Whole Foods cinnamon rolls and Coca-Cola, you're on notice!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Follow Up

Toys While Nursing
Previously, I had mentioned a tip that my doctor gave me where she recommended putting together a few baskets of toys for my son play with while I am breastfeeding my daughter. Several commenters also added the great suggestion that reading books to my son while nursing is another great idea. And I agree! I LOVE that idea because it includes him. On a weird, odd, note, I had a similar experience with my cats - they quickly figured out that when I was nursing, I wasn't going anywhere. Frequently, I had at least one cat by my side while nursing and it ended up being a great way to give them some attention. I think by "including" them it made them less resentful of my son when he was born. To date, we've had absolutely no issues with them and they have been very accepting of my son and his "gentle" petting.

With this pregnancy, I am carrying my daughter pretty high and it appears my ribcage has expanded a bit. Which means my bras no longer fit quite right. I was going to buy some new bras anyway to "treat" myself (ha!), but am hesitant to run just now to buy some - what if my ribcage goes back to normal or not all the way? When I started this blog, I had grandiose ideas that I would go perusing again at Wal-Mart, Target and Motherhood and then provide detailed reviews. However, I just couldn't get my heart into it. Frankly, my experience with those three places the last time was very, very bad and it was NOT worth saving a few bucks to get cheap bras there - I ended up throwing out about $50 worth of bras and instead, buying some Bravado bras at Shawnee Mission Medical Center's Mommy and Me store. I want to continue with the Bravado line because they makes such great nursing bras, but am hesitant to plunk over money until I know for sure what my size will be. However, my bras are "cutting" into my ribcage NOW. Bah humbug.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Toxic Toxins are Toxic.

This article lists 5 ways to reduce the toxins in your body (and your breast milk). I'm still more than a little fascinated that I found this in a Dental Health site. What the hell?

Anyway, the 5 ways are fairly straightforward:

1. Eat organic.

2. Drink more water.

3. Eat liver-healthy foods. (This one was really good information - I don't often think of my poor little liver except after a hard night o' boozing. They recommend eatings such foods as broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, eggs, garlic, onion, peppers, citrus fruits, fish, whole grains, vegetables and green tea.)

4. Aid detoxification through the digestive tract. (They suggest lots of water and fiber. Makes me crave a bean burrito with some guacamole. Margaritas have water in them, right?)

5. Aid detoxification through the skin. (They point out that tears and sweat are great ways to get rid of toxins. AWESOME. The next time I have a good cry, I'm going to tell my husband that I am "in detox".)

Friday, May 25, 2007

If it's for Free, it's for Me!

I have previously mentioned my undying love and gratitude for Soothies. My one complaint is the ridiculous cost of them - I've had to pay $11 for a pack of 2. They only last 3-5 days (depending how carefully you treat them and store them when not in use.) so if you need them for 2-3 weeks (like I did), then you are looking at some hefty costs. Today, I decided to start stocking my bag for the hospital and I went to Wal-Mart to see if they had Soothies. While there, I discovered that Gerber makes soothing gel pads, too. Of course, maybe Gerber had always been making them, but I was in such a daze with my son that I did not have the time nor the inclination to comparison shop. So, in the process of looking at the Gerber site to provide a link for this post, I noticed a little verbiage that included the word "free" and "sample". Two of the very sweetest words in the English language. So, I called the number (1-800-4-GERBER) and got set up for some free samples to be delivered. I called at 10pm CDT and was shocked to get an answer. The CSR was super-friendly and my free samples are on their way. Also, I will still buy some Soothies so I can provide a product comparison and additionally, I'm looking into some other soothing gel pads. I will be sure to report back on this when the time actually comes for me to slapping those suckers on my sore tatas! I'd like to provide a nice Benefit vs. Cost analysis.

Have a great weekend and BE SAFE.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pump and Dump.

I am finally catching up on my DVR backlog and just watched a recent episode of "Notes from the Underbelly". I am not crazy about this show, but it's nice to have a light, silly sitcom on the roster. I'll admit, part of the fun is mentally poking fun at the crazy misinformation this show dispenses. The episode I watched was the one where the 3 gals are going to go out and party - it was the new mom, the pregnant mom and the single gal. The new mom is concerned about leaving her newborn and the pregnant gal says "oh, you can just pump and dump so you'll be fine." While I doubt new mothers everywhere are depending on this silly sitcom as a reliable source for breastfeeding information, the line only served to further the myth that you must pump and dump when you've been drinking. Sure, if you get so smashed that you can't breastfeed for half a day, you might want to pump and dump as not to interrupt your supply and to relieve any engorgement, but pumping and dumping doesn't rid your system of the alcohol more quickly. Of course, I think I loathe the "You can't drink AT ALL" myth even worse. I like a nice glass of wine (a light Oregon Pinot Noir, pleaseohplease) or a Boulevard Wheat Beer with a slice of lemon in it. I'll freely admit it and I think it's sad when folks are so hard lined about clamping down on it. (Don't get me started on how my doctor thinks Americans are puritanical when it comes to alcohol even during pregnancy and that realistically, a glass of wine enjoyed over dinner isn't going to harm the baby.)

Anyway, Kelly Mom, per usual, has some great information on consuming alcohol while breastfeeding. I remember just after I had given birth to my son, one of my hardcore La Leche League friends was adamant that I could enjoy my glass of wine. As she put it "breastfeeding doesn't need to be ridiculously restrictive on you." And she's right.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


First, I'd like to encourage you to read the comments from yesterday's post WIC-Friend or Foe? The comments highlighted some very important points about the problems with folks abusing the WIC system. Another commenter pointed out that many of the areas within the WIC program DO provide breastpumps and do encourage breastfeeding. I grew up in two very small Kansas towns and yes, I've seen abuses of the program as well. Overall, I have very conflicted, yet cynical feelings about most such programs because often there is little incentive for someone to enable themselves once they start getting benefits. In particular it is difficult when living on government assistance becomes a multi-generational situation and the result is that the 2nd generation doesn't really know any different kind of life. I wasn't sure I wanted to bring that up in my original post, but yes, I've seen clear cases myself where the program has been abused and where clearly some women are just along for the free ride and the government cheese.

Okay - today's article --- it's stories such as this one in the Guardian that burn me. Seriously. Basically, what happened is that a breastfeeding Ugandan mother in the UK is being detained separately from her children (a 4 week old and a one year old, respectively). We've had some similar issues in our own country as well with separating deportees who are breastfeeding their children - what complicates this UK case is that there appears to have been some mental issues with the mother. While I understand that detainees and children maybe can't be kept together, I think it is unconscionable that a breastfeeding mother wouldn't be allowed access to even a breast pump in order to keep her milk supply going for when she is reunited with her child. Despicable.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

WIC - Friend or Foe?

First, I'd like to point out that I loved, LOVED my hospital. I had a great experience there, the room was comfy, it had all sorts of amenities (stereo, whirlpool, etc) and the bed was a queen sized REGULAR bed. I just didn't care for the food so much. I discovered just mere hours before checking out that there was a "pantry" stocked full of yogurts, cookies, and all sorts of goodies. I had sent my husband back there for milk, but he neglected to tell me about all the goodies. Lesson learned and I will definitely be venturing there this next time around.

Second, I realize I am covering a lot of news and articles around here. When I signed up to do this, I was a bit worried that I haven't actually started breastfeeding again yet - what the heck would I talk about?? So far, I've had plenty to talk about, but I hope folks don't think that I will just be posting news and articles all the time. After Anjali is born, my goal is to do a 2-3 week Daily BoobLog to document those first few weeks and then from there, my breasts can take center stage (sorta). I've noticed even with my son, that I already have the tendency to say "oh, the first few weeks were a hard, but then it was a piece of cake!" I'd like to document exactly just how hard it can be - my hope is that if a new mom comes across this site, she can see some realistic breastfeeding experiences and not feel so alone if she doesn't have a support group, close friend or family member that she can turn to. I did have a support group, close friend and family member to turn to, so this is my small way to try and pay it forward.

Okay, moving on to today's article. I am a little shocked by audacity of this one where the author states that WIC funding for formula should be ended. I sorta see their premise on a high level. But. BUT. It could be argued that breastfeeding for working mothers is a privilege (my understanding is that a lot of WIC mothers ARE working, but are financially strapped). First, you need to have a job that is conducive to pumping - many lower paying jobs (I'm thinking retail and production line) would not be conducive to pumping. Every gal I've known who has pumped at work has had a difficult time fitting it into their schedule - professionals and non-professionals alike. I can't imagine how much harder it would be for a lower level worker to push the pumping issue, particularly if they feel their job is insecure anyway. Second, the equipment needed for pumping is often expensive. I bought a cheap electric pump myself and it did not go well with the expressing because the pump was crap. Yes, I realize that overall, formula would be more expensive than pumping, but when a gal is already strapped for cash, she may be hesitant to fork over the big bucks for a pump when she's not sure how long she will even get to breastfeed. I am not financially struggling, but was hesitant myself to pay even the $50 for an electric pump at a time when I wasn't even sure how it was going to go yet. I did buy the pump, but I had the luxury to take that gamble. So, I can't say that I would support a measure that would take formula out of the WIC program. However, I would totally support something within the WIC program that allowed coupons/stipends towards breastfeeding paraphernalia - say, towards a pump, nursing pads, etc..

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Now I'm hungry.

Updated to Add: Eek. In my rush to get this out, I realize I didn't really emphasize what I was getting at. I do think the lists can be helpful when there is a problem with a fussy baby and that yes, the lists can assist a mother in narrowing down what the problems might be in her diet. I just hate it when they make it sound like ALL babies are bothered by spicy foods, etc. And for sure, I have yet to see a list include Greek food or gyros which most definitely made my kid squirmy all night long, although I confess, I still partook in a yummy gryros every now and then. Gulp.

When I was in the hospital with Arun, I starved. The hospital food wasn't bad per se, but it mostly consisted of a piece of meat, a potato, some sort of boiled side veggie and it certainly wasn't spicy. It didn't help that I was there for such a short time that by the time I filled out the "menu" card and it got processed, it was time for me to leave anyway. For whatever Fool Head Reason, I turned down all of my husband's kind offers for bringing me food - a mistake I will NOT be repeating the next time around, believeyoume. The day I went home with our son, I craved something spicy so bad it physically hurt and we picked up some Thai takeout on our way home. Sure, I saw a brief question mark hovering over that Styrofoam takeout container because all the Wise Baby Tomes tell you to avoid spicy food while breastfeeding. However, I quickly brought myself back to reality as I pondered, “What the hell do women eat in Thailand?”, then I promptly dug in and stuffed myself to the gills. And that, my friends, set the standard for what I ate while my son was breastfeeding. If something obviously bothered him, I cut it from the menu - otherwise, it stayed. We cook mostly South Indian at home and primarily other varieties of ethnic when we go out. Sure, we do pizza and some other "American" standards, but primarily, we eat exotic. Which probably explains why my 19 month old is pretty damned close to our level of spicy eating and doesn't even flinch when presented with a jalapeño on a sandwich.

Regarding "foods to avoid while breastfeeding", I found this article interesting. Actually, I find most of these types of articles chuckle-worthy because often they are presented as a "complete list". Furthermore, I've seen loads of new moms take them to heart and then kick it up a notch- I knew a gal who didn't eat peanuts the entire time she breastfed because if her son got a peanut allergy, "she would never forgive herself". I'm definitely not saying the lists aren't helpful, but I think they should be presented as a " keep in mind" sort of thing.

As it turned out, my son was most bothered by milk, soft cheeses and Greek gryo meat (Bonus Sidenote: It's properly pronounced "yee-ro"). Oh and these days, he calls Pad Thai noodles "pye-pye" and weeps when I put them in the microwave for reheating. Poetic.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Can't Resist

Okay. I've been resisting this story all week long. The story regarding the British Breastfeeding Mayor - yeah, that one. All week long, a variety of stories have been offered to us. Basically, the former mayor of Trafford gave birth 2 months before she accepted the office.The stories started out by saying that she was simply not allowed to breastfeed in the mayor's "official" car that is provided by the city to take her to official engagement (articles such as this one - or variations on that one where folks merely complained.) This story is portraying the situation in a different light - one in which attendants basically did not want to take care of the baby and/or be seen as nannies. And this story is providing even more details - such as, she wanted to take her baby with her everywhere for the first 6 months of his life, even to a Palace garden party. Wow.

At this point, it is difficult to even tell what is really going on, but I will say this - if she was truly thinking she could just take her kid with her and have official mayoral attendants take care of her baby, then yeah, that's just wrong. I will continue to keep an eye on this story, though because I find it fascinating how the details keep changing!

Friday, May 18, 2007

My Ann Landers Moment

I’ve received my first question! Since I don’t consider myself a breastfeeding expert by any means, I hadn’t really anticipated doing an “advice/answer” section to this site. However, I absolutely welcome questions and will gladly do all the “hoofing around” to get the answer for you. When answers come from a specific source, site or book, I will definitely reference them. When answers emerge from my own personal gray matter, I will certainly make that clear as well by starting off with a trusty “IMHO” (roughly translated as “in my humble opinion” – which truthfully, isn’t all that humble as I am pretty opinionated.)

Alicia asks:
If a mother is pumping primarily to increase her supply, why does she need to wait an hour after her baby has nursed? Wouldn’t it be better to just pump immediately after the baby has breastfed? If you pump right after nursing would your body make more per nursing session or if you were to pump an hour afterwards would your body make more overall?

My Answer:
Great question! I quickly discovered the advice concerning the whole "pumping to increase your supply" issue garners a wide variety of answers which can be very confusing. First, I thought it was interesting to understand how milk is produced and Kelly Mom provides a great explanation of the process. Kelly Mom goes on to recommend that in order to increase production, the mother needs to nurse more frequently AND she should empty the breast as thoroughly as possible. Kelly Mom suggests waiting awhile after the nursing session before pumping and frankly, most of the sites I came across recommended this as well. That's the answer, right? Ha. I went on searching and found TONS more answers. The Nursing Mom site said "You can also try pumping after you nurse to increase milk supply" which I found to be pretty vague and it didn't give a specific timeline. Also, the Health Touch site said "......Pump for 10 minutes right after you finish breastfeeding once you have a let-down.......". I also found the Breastfeed-Essentials site which said "You also may want to add a few extra minutes (5-10) of pumping after the baby has finished nursing."

Frankly, it seems that a mother would need to experiment a little to find the best pumping scenario for increasing her supply - the best scenario for her, that is.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Symbols are Symbolic for a Reason

Since I am a suburbanite desperately seeking Crunchity Granola’d Enlightenment, I like to read Mothering Magazine. Awhile back, I read an excellent article on how images of bottlefeeding and bottles are prevalent in our mainstream collective – media, entertainment, – hell’s bells….. even down to baby gift wrapping paper. After reading that article, I became increasingly aware of how bottles are always shown as THE method for feeding a baby, but rarely, RARELY is breastfeeding shown. I was mildly shocked and impressed a few weeks back when Notes From the Underbelly, a network show, showed a woman breastfeeding (The Sopranos has shown breastfeeding on HBO, but seriously – did anyone even notice amidst all the footage set within the Bada Bing anyway??) What saddens me is that in my son’s myriad of books, not one single image of breastfeeding is shown. I always just skip over the baby bottles because he doesn’t know what that is for – he would rarely take one and even then, only under duress of starving. Even on Sesame Street, the venerable classic of children’s television programming, I have yet to see any breastfeeding. Why?

Anyway, I can’t find that Mothering article now, but within the article there was a call to the public to come up with a logo for breastfeeding. I recently ran across the winning logo of the contest and seriously – that symbol is AWESOME.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Randomly Specific

Breastfeeding 1-2-3 has an excellent post on water consumption! For example, I didn't know that if you consume too much water it can actually decrease your supply. I remember being CRAZY thirsty in the first few months and definitely believe in the "drink to thirst" methodology. My first few months found me dragging water wherever I went and part of my nighttime routine included carefully putting together a pitcher of ice water for during the night.

I came across this Australian site that has gathered some personal experiences surrounding breastfeeding. The site includes interviews of 49 women and 2 men. I haven't gotten to dig around it much, but can't wait to read it. I am working on a little project of my own where I want to interview a variety of women from across the decades starting with my grandma who breastfed in the mid 1940s and probably ending with my step-mom who nursed in the mid 1980s. I am compiling my interview questions now and if there is anything in particular that any of you would like me to ask, let me know!

Random Unsolicited Advice
I love, LOVE my doctor. I don't always agree with her, but I always take her opinion into serious advisement before making decisions (I'm talking general babycare/lifestyle advice here). I've been concerned about my son being jealous while I am nursing my daughter and asked her a good way to handle that. I've seen that a new mother nursing her child can create a hot spot for the older child because he/she knows that "mom is busy" and now is a good time to act up while her hands are full. My doctor's advice was to have a basket of special toys for the older child that are only brought out while nursing. What an excellent idea coming from a mother of 4, tightly spaced children! I'm due in 8 weeks, so over the next few weeks, I am going to put together a few small baskets of some new toys and will mix in some old ones so we don't break the budget. I thought I'd pass that idea along because I am not sure I would have come up with that one on my own in my current weakened mental state that I refer to as "pregnancy brain".

Monday, May 14, 2007


While this is not specifically related to breastfeeding, it IS related to lifestyle and nutrition. I guess it could be argued that you need a positive lifestyle with good nutrition to foster healthy breastfeeding, eh? Therefore, when I saw the site, Healthy Child, Healthy World, I got pretty excited. In addition to this article about toxins and breastfeeding by Isabel Kallman of Alphamom, there are also loads of great tips for nutrition and living green in this site. Anyway, I can't claim to be Granola, rather I probably fall in category of Wannabe. I still enjoyed this site - check it out!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Randomly Specific

1. Remedies
The main purpose of the previous post was to just point out different solutions. I know so many gals that used lanolin and it worked for them, but I also know so many gals for whom lanolin did not work. I've also heard that skin tone can made a big, big difference (i.e. fair, light-skinned gals may have a harder time initially). My primary complaint is that I wish the gel pads were offered on par with lanolin. I just came across a poll that listed "best gifts for nursing mothers" and gel pads weren't even an option. I will be curious if I get cracked nipples this time around now that I will be going with Soothies from the very beginning - I'll definitely report back!

2. Support groups
I came across this article about a group of local women in Canada who have banded together to provide even phone support for new mothers. The article brought tears to my eyes, but perhaps that was merely the pregnancy hormones kicking into high gear. When I was a new mother, I knew I was very fortunate to have such a good support group at my hospital AND my sister on speed dial (#5, Home Phone and #9, Cell Phone!). Since I was so grateful for the superb support that I received, I made an extra effort to continue attending the support group at my hospital long after I really needed it. I am hoping to be able to do so again this time around and am even trying to get a day school slot for my son on the day the group meets so that I won't be dragging a 20 month old around all those newborns (new moms are a nervous bunch and sometimes don't appreciate a toddler's "gentle" touch to their baby's oh-so-precious soft spot. I don't blame them, either!). I think it is undisputed that La Leche League is unparalleled in what they have achieved in promoting breastfeeding and supporting new mothers. However, many mothers are very intimidated by the group and are hesitant to attend meetings. Yes, this is sad and I think some of the radical reputation attributed to LLL is unfounded and undeserved. Regardless, it remains a fact that many new mothers aren't attending LLL meetings and in that vein, I get excited whenever I see alternative options for new mothers.

3. Massachusetts Gets a Clue?
I was very excited to see that Massachusetts is mulling a breastfeeding law! This is personal to me, actually. My husband started a new business a few months ago and for a variety of reasons it is currently based out of the Boston area. If this new business takes off, there is a very likely possibility that we will move to that area next year. Anyway, my breastfeeding experiences in Boston have all been positive, but it would still be nice to see a law out there.

4. Not Quite Sure I Want to Celebrate THIS Celebrity

I saw this bit from Larry the Cable Guy and he is discussing his take on his son's apparent unappreciative nature towards breastfeeding. It IS funny and I do think the Blue Collar Comedy Tour guys are pretty entertaining. Still....

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


As much as the next person, I love, LOVE investing in pretty, smelly bottles of overpriced crèmes, lotions and “remedies” for any perceived ailment I might have. (Currently, I am going through a “bodywash” phase and have a variety of them in my shower. They represent a United Nations of Prices ranging from Philosophy to Neutrogena to Evelyn/Crabtree to a Target store brand. Gulp.)

Anyway, one of the very first things I learned in breastfeeding is that it pays to experiment. Lanolin crème is pushed onto all new mothers and like the sheep I am, I dutifully applied it. Unfortunately, it did not help me in the least. Fortunately, I had my secret weapon in that one of my cousins is a lactation consultant. For my baby shower, she had given me a “breastfeeding care package” loaded with all sorts of goodies. I vaguely remembered seeing a package of Soothies, and tossing them aside with casual interest because I didn’t know what they were for. A week into Breastfeeding Hell, I was digging through the care package looking for something. I came across the Soothies, read the description and a light bulb came on. I slapped those suckers on and never looked back. In short, Soothies saved me, whereas lanolin provided little relief. The secret to the Soothies and lanolin concept is that this is an Either/Or situation. You do NOT use them together - you have to make a choice and go with one OR the other. All was not lost, though, in the realm of All Things Lanolin. For the first several weeks when taking a shower, I did use the Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser, which is lanolin based, on my chest area to minimize exposure to fragrance or anything that might be irritating.

In the vein of "alternatives", I did read with interest this study in the International Breastfeeding Journal of using peppermint water in lieu of expressed breast milk to help prevent nipple cracking (peppermint water is used by breastfeeding mothers in Iran). Normally, peppermint is associated with being an irritant if applied topically, so I was curious about this. I will definitely keep an eye out for more results on this.

(Totally Tangential: All the free samples of lanolin crème I received did not go to waste – lanolin is an EXCELLENT diaper rash prevention. I used the tubes for travel sizes for my diaper bag. Unfortunately, lanolin is WAY too expensive to actually purchase for regular use. While I’m on topic, Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser is another great diaper rash prevention. A tip I received from my sister, she recommended putting it on after each diaper change. No, you don’t rinse it, you leave it on and it forms a thin, non-greasy, non-smelly protective layer. I’ve used it on my son since he was born with excellent results.)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Working Smarter

Yesterday, the Oregon Senate passed a law to support breastfeeding in the workplace. In short, the bill "The bill requires employers of 25 or more employees to provide a mother unpaid time and a private place to express milk every four hours during the work day." The bill does provide an exception for the business if an undue hardship would be placed upon the business. This law now brings the number of states that have laws regarding nursing mothers in the workplace to 13! Kudos to Oregon!

I cannot speak to personal experience with juggling the workplace and breastfeeding needs, other than as a sideline observer. It always horrified me when mothers had to pump in the restroom, though. That was just wrong - I knew that much. I worked for employers that seemed generally supportive of it. However, in my observations, it wasn't the employers who were the problem, but rather, the employees. Over the years, time and time again, I have seen working mothers go back to work and get sucked into a maelstrom of meetings and projects. I've seen mothers attempt to schedule consistent time frames for pumping only to have co-workers schedule a meeting knowing there was a conflict (a common practice for everyone at a particular Giant Corporate Telecom in the Kansas City area). Part of this is simply logistics - when you are trying to assemble a meeting of 6 or more folks, sometimes, the person scheduling the meeting has to go with the time slot that works for the majority of the folks.

I think the most common lack of knowledge amongst the coworkers is that they don't understand that a mother HAS to pump on a fairly consistent schedule or her milk supply may suffer (I've had this similar misunderstanding on the part of non-breastfeeding friends who didn't understand that because of engorgement it is physically painful for me to be away from my child for 4 hours - even when my son was past newborn stage.) The general rule of thumb seems to be that for every feeding your child has while away from you, there needs to be a pumping. Sure, a mother has some flexibility with this and could pump in the evening or early hours before she goes to work, but regardless, there would need to be a least a pumping or two during work hours.

Hopefully, laws such as the one Oregon just passed will continue to be the norm and there will be more education and understanding on the part of employers AND employees. Besides, in all my years of working, I never, ever knew a cigarette smoker to go without their nicotine fix. Surely, time can be carved out for nursing mothers.

Monday, May 7, 2007

The Law

While browsing about the Blue Nowhere this weekend, I found the National Conference of State Legislatures site that provides a concise summary of state laws regarding breastfeeding. Awesome.

I mentioned it before, but what is particularly disturbing about many of these recent cases where mothers are being to leave public places while breastfeeding is that they are in states that have laws to protect them! Why are mothers still being asked to leave? Is there something a mother can do? Therefore, I took it upon myself to call my local police department to discuss the best approach for dealing with a situation where a mother is illegally asked to leave a public place while nursing her child. Kansas law is pretty specific - it allows a woman to breastfeed in "any place she has a right to be." The police officer was very helpful and said the obvious - many folks are simply not aware of what the law allows. His recommendation was to carry a copy of the statute. If I were ever asked to leave a place where I "have a right to be", he recommended presenting a copy of the statute to the person. I do have a convenient card for this purpose, so it was reassuring to know that I am on the right track. It's a shame that it would come down to this, but I think his advice was correct. Furthermore, if this ever happens to me and if the person asking me to leave persists even after I show him/her the card, I guess I will then politely invite them to call the police.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Double Standards

In celebrity news, I came across this article about Maggie Gyllenhaal and within the article, there is a snap of her breastfeeding her daughter, Ramona. The photo took my breath away. Seriously. It is such a beautiful shot. Then, I read all the rude, spiteful, nasty comments. Bah. My first reaction was that it was incredible invasion of privacy on the part of Gyllenhaal's, but realistically, she probably knew the shot was going to happen. I have to wonder if she didn't do it on purpose to make a statement. After all, there are TONS of paparazzi shots of her out and about with her daughter. She must be aware that of that.

By the way, the title refers to me. I've mentioned before that I am totally down with public nursing, just use a blanket. Officially, I'd like to retract that statement because this little photo made me realize my own hypocrisy (yep, I do that sometimes. Chalk it up to personal growth or something). Just yesterday, I was watching an episode of the Sopranos which provided the usual full-on breast shot. I am also a HUGE fan of Sex and the City. I wonder how many of the commenters who made all the mean comments are also HBO fans?

Those folks need to get a clue. I sure did.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Baby Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue?

Like many women, I've suffered periods of mild depression in my life. They were usually spurred by some outside event - work, changing cities, switching jobs, or everyone's favorite purveyor of the blues - heartbreak. Throw in the usual hormones and well.... it wasn't pretty, folks. The longest period of depression in my life was in the year 2000. Without going into detail, let's just say that I never want to live like that again. Since I know I am prone to mild depression anyway, I was very worried about post-partum depression. VERY worried. Imagine my surprised relief when I only had a few weeks of baby blues after my son was born. I felt very flat emotionally, but not really unhappy or sad. Just flat. And then it passed.

I read this article about how breastfeeding and healthy fats can help with post-partum depression and it was like having a V8. No wonder! I knew the part about breastfeeding, because the effects of that lovely, lovely hormone, Oxytocin, has been reported before. Besides, I think as most breastfeeding mothers can attest, there are few sweeter feelings than that first initial moment when your baby latches on and your milk lets down. An indescribable feeling that is just..... sweet. When breastfeeding is going well, it feels GOOD - as it SHOULD, since nature probably wants to encourage us in continuing*. Anyway, the other part of the article concerning healthy fats fascinated me because I take flaxseed oil as a regular part of my diet (flaxseed supplements and soymilk with flaxseed oil in it). In addition, my husband is South Indian and demands fish as a part of his daily diet, so we eat loads of fish (the good, low-mercury ones, like salmon and cod. Charlie's not allowed in our house). Obviously, more research would probably need to be done on this, but it may be worth it for mothers at a higher risk for depression to consider adding more healthy fats into their diet.

*Total Tangent: Does anyone else remember a big scandal about 10 years ago when a mother "admitted" that breastfeeding felt good? People were OUTRAGED that a mother would feel pleasure while breastfeeding. Even though I was firmly entrenched in my Armchair Parenting days back then, I specifically remember thinking that was the stupidest thing ever for folks to criticize. Even then, it seemed logical to me that a mother would get some sort of physical pleasure from breastfeeding. Not all pleasure has to be sexual! I've been known to swoon over a plate of spicy, cold Sichuan noodles. I think I may have proposed marriage. True story.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

What's your favorite position?

As I am on the dawn of a new round of breastfeeding, I've been reflecting on what I'll do different this time around. For sure, I will definitely be trying more than the select few positions offered in the pamphlets that were handed out in the breastfeeding class I took. And most definitely, I will not be using the Creaky Rocker With Hospital Provided Boppy combo. It's not that the LCs at the hospital pushed these positions, it's just I didn't know to ask. It turned out that my favorite and most comfortable position for nursing my son in the beginning was sitting Indian-style on the floor or in our bed. I also liked nursing him while lying down in the bed, which went a long, long way in night-feedings. I was rarely sleep-deprived after the first few weeks once I got everything down pat. Unfortunately, it took me awhile to figure out how to nurse lying down because the pamphlets only showed a select way to do it - it turned out, I needed to do something different with my arms and my pillow in order to make it comfortable for me. Of course, once I got nursing down pat, I could nurse in any position, but I think it would have been more helpful to have more options in the beginning while I was still figuring it all out.

In that vein, I was very excited to come across an article yesterday that discussed different nursing positions. This article, on the BBC News site, challenges traditional breastfeeding positions and found if the infant lies down on his/her stomach while nursing there can be many advantages and more reflexes are "spurred" by this position. I have nursed in this position before, but not until my son was older. I was excited to learn about this position for newborns - it will be nice to have several options. The other advantage of this position is that if you get a clogged milk duct on the underside of your breast, that will go a long way in clearing it since having your baby's chin aligned with the clogged duct helps that duct along.

My #1 Advice to a new mother learning how to breastfeed would be to encourage her to experiment - there are no rules when it comes to breastfeeding! As long as everyone involved is comfortable, then I say go for it. Experiment away!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Actually, the law IS fighting for us, but why aren’t we winning?

I'm sure everyone has already heard of the whole thing that happened in a Houston's restaurant in Boca Raton. In short, a nursing mother was asked to leave because she was nursing her baby at a table (if you haven't heard about it, you can catch up here). I wasn't going to discuss it on this site because it seemed such old news by the time I started blogging about breastfeeding. However, this article struck me because of something in particular. Besides all the nasty comments on this article, I found out that Florida has a breastfeeding law. Huh? If Florida has a breastfeeding law, then why did that gal get humiliated and banished? Why?

I am fairly new to this. Before I started this site, I lived in my own little bubble of support groups, family and friends so I've always declared my right to nurse in public. Or perhaps, I really don't care what people think, as I like to pretend. I'm not sure which is which at this point - it's very easy for to say I don't care what people think, but then again, I've never been asked to leave an establishment! I like to think that I would calmly invite the person to call the police to have me evicted, but maybe I would freeze. Maybe I would be scared. Maybe I would be humiliated, too. It's easy to have courage and honor in the absence of any battle, eh? You see, Kansas does have a law, so in theory, I should have a leg to stand on.

When Kansas passed its law, my breastfeeding support group handed out sweet little cards to everyone. The card gives information on the law and the card supposed to be something the mother could present to someone if she were ever asked to leave a public site. I still carry it. Not because I think it will really work in defending my honor, but rather because I think it is sweet. I will definitely put it my daughter's baby book. I hope it serves as a stark reminder how archaic our society used to be and perhaps, someday my own daughter can chuckle gently at how freakin' backwards we used to be. As she freely nurses her child wherever she wants.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Age Limits

I mentioned I would talk about age limits for breastfeeding. However, I should really start in the beginning.......

Back in my days of Armchair Parenting, I believed a child should be weaned at 12 months. Sharp. Then, I had a baby of my own and learned that babies need high fat in their diets until the age of 24 months since it's crucial for brain development - specifically, they need essential fatty acids, which cow's milk is low in. Okay. I was cool with that and decided that if Arun wanted to nurse until 2 years old, that was fine by me. Then, I found out I was pregnant shortly after Arun turned 12 months. I knew that I didn't want to tandem nurse, so I decided that Arun would need to be weaned by 18 months. As I've already discussed, he ended up weaning himself by 15 months (not to belabor the point, but now we do a variety of nuts, flaxseed, and fish to help with his essential fatty acid intake. We aren't anti-milk by any means (I LOVE milk! YUM!), but cow's milk was made for a CALF'S brain.) Okay. The end. Right? Not really, because I have baby #2 on the way. And I will approach weaning in the same manner - I'd like to nurse her until 24 months if she's down with that, but if not, I am not going to push breastfeeding on her when there are other great options for essential fatty acids.

So. Age limits. I am not comfortable with children nursing past the age of 2. I never was and still am not. However, until I had a child of my own, I couldn't really explain why I was awkward with it - I couldn't quite put it in definable words. There has been talk in the comments here about the "over-sexualization of the female breast" in our culture. I would agree with that sentiment. But that over-sexualization is based on something that has been in existence since the beginning of man. Modern culture didn't invent that concept but rather exploited it. The female breast is a source of pleasure and desire for both men and women - that's undeniable. And that role of the female breast in sexual pleasure plays itself out for the greater part of most women's lives. In truth, breastfeeding constitutes a very small part of most women's lifespans even when you figure out a max of 2 years per child.

I would expect that the female breast will play a part in both of my children's sexual futures. Therefore, quite simply, I do not want them to remember suckling at mine. When they are adults, I want their experiences with the female to be fresh. So while I really don't care if others nurse their children way beyond the age of 2, I will never be comfortable with it.