Tag: Breastfeeding

The Problem with Breastfeeding

Posted on May 1, 2021 by 5 Comments

Breastfeeding is something that I had a difficult time doing. I tried really hard and did everything that my lactation specialist told me to do, but I just never seemed to produce enough milk to adequately feed my baby.

I felt like a bad mother and like I had failed my perfect little baby in some very profound way. Read more…

Breast or Bottle? Whatever You Choose It’s O.K.

Posted on Apr 13, 2021 by 6 Comments

When you become a first time parent you are faced with a ton of choices for how to go about raising your child. It can be overwhelming and seem like everyone has an opinion.

Well, they do.

But you can choose whether or not you pay attention to those opinions because ultimately, you have to decide what is best for you and your child. I am of the mindset that there isn’t one right way to do anything and I don’t think that anyone should tell you how to go about feeding your child as long as you’re not shoving Twinkies down their throat as their primary source of nutrition. Additionally, I’m sure this goes without saying, but if you choose to neglect your child altogether, I’m going to have something to say about that. Read more…

5 Decisions You Make Before Baby Arrives

Posted on Mar 16, 2021 by 3 Comments

Becoming a parent is a momentous occasion. It’s a step in life where you and your significant other take that next great leap into your future. But, there are so many unknowns and so many things that come to mind when attempting to prepare for such a journey. So what are the “must-make” decisions every parent should decide on before baby arrives? Well, as a mom of three, I have narrowed down the seemingly endless list to a manageable starting point. Read more…

Scarves as Hooter Hiders

Posted on Apr 16, 2021 by No Comments

On Easter morning a few weeks back, we got up and out the door in record time to make it to an Easter egg hunt organized at our local horse stables. Unfortunately, I shoulda checked the weather.

The light drizzle turned in to gale-force winds and pelting rain as we parked the car. Still, we trudged on and thought, maybe it will let up. I’m forever the optimist.

It didn’t. We were miserable. The wind, the rain, the mud, the umbrella (ineffective, if course). Man, can we complain!

So, instead of saying, “we will have fun, dammit!” we did the sensible thing and left. If I haven’t mentioned it before, our family mottos is: “if it get’s too hard, just give up”.

Off we went to a cozy restaurant to have brunch. Yum! But wait, I had my horse stable clothes on, not my nice restaurant clothes. This being a casual sort of town, no one even blinked. However, when it came time to breast feed, I was ill prepared to do anything sitting in the middle of a restaurant. When I dressed that morning I had thought I’d be out somewhere I could find a quiet little spot…

Luckily I was wearing a scarf. It’s always freezing here, no matter what time of year it is so I’m usually wearing a scarf of some sort. As I was fumbling around with my top trying to surreptitiously maneuver my boob into my wee one’s mouth, I pulled the scarf over the both of us and wouldn’t you know it…complete privacy. Of course people would know what we were doing, but no one could SEE anything.

I was planning on buying Hooter Hiders or some such thing, but now I don’t have to…a scarf can do the trick.

Hopefully some of you may find this as exciting as I did. Some of you may just say, “duh!”

photo credit: kimrose…

Exercise and Breastfeeding

Posted on Apr 8, 2021 by No Comments

I’ve been wondering how exercise effects breastfeeding and suspected that being overly active reduces the quantity of breast milk. After much research, I’ve unfortunately found that it has no effect.

I guess I was trying to rationalize not returning to my workout regimen. Sadly, it’s perfectly healthy to start working out again. even if you’re trying to produce as much breast milk as possible.

I realize I shouldn’t put pressure on myself to either workout or not workout. I mean, I hate this big tire I have parked around my belly after my pregnancy. It jiggles in very unsightly ways, so I guess it’d be nice to not have that anymore.

Of course, there is no guarantee that I’ll be able to get that off. But I’ve got such little energy that the LAST thing I want to do is go to the gym…wouldn’t it just be nice to sit down for a half a second, take a deep breath and just be?

Well, I guess that moment will have to wait 20 years or so. Until then, I’ll just have to start listening to my gym shoes calling my name from the closet. Who knows - maybe a little exercise will even give me some energy.

photo credit: Ed Yourdon

Tales From a First Time Breastfeeder

Posted on Apr 7, 2021 by 1 Comment

The first time around, breastfeeding didn’t work for me. Maybe it was the ill-formed chin my baby had or maybe it was the breast reduction I had. Maybe I didn’t try hard enough (spoken like a true guilt-ridden mom). Whatever it was, it didn’t work out for us.

That’s why, this second time around I’ve been thrilled and relieved that it’s working. Only, it’s not easy to learn how to do, especially when you have to actually go out into public and figure out how to feed a baby without completely exposing yourself, embarrassing yourself or those around you.

You see where this is going, don’t you?

Picture this: I drive into the parking lot at Trader Joe’s with my long time friend and my two kids. We get all the way to the door of the store and the wee one starts howling. She’s hungry. OK, back to the car so I can sit down to nurse.

I drive a SUV - Toyota 4Runner - you know, the kind with the large “way back” as we call it. Since the 2 car seats take up the whole back seat; and, in the front seats, the steering wheel is in the way on the driver’s side while the passenger side is moved all the way up the glove box to fit the baby seat behind it (and nowhere near comfortable), I had the brilliant idea to get in the way back.

All 4 of us: two almost 40 year old women, a 2 year old and an infant. Why not? There is room.

So, in we climb. It’s cozy and fun. We’re laughing a bit (except for the screaming baby) and I find a handle. Convenient to pull closed the door, I think. I close it and start breast feeding.

That’s when my friend says, “how do open the door to get out?”

Uhhh. What?

Didn’t think of that. No biggie, she says, and when I’m finished she climbs over the back seat, over the car seats and into the driver’s side so she can open the door to get out to go around the back and open the way back door. No prob.

Did I mention how old us ladies are? But, since we met when we were 2 and have gotten into way more tricky situations than this together, it’s more funny than anything. Oh how we laugh.

Chuckling as we get back to the grocery cart, I hand her the baby, put the toddler in the cart and off we go. We’re giddy as we think about how ridiculous we must have looked - talking about other times we’ve gotten into tight spots…then she looks at me, face aghast and says, “look down.”

Yep - I’m shopping with my shirt up. Didn’t feel it, didn’t notice. But yes, my shirt is hiked up above my boobs, nursing bra out there in the open for every one to see. How I didn’t feel this I have no idea.

I was that woman! In Trader Joe’s, shopping in my bra.

Needless to say, I haven’t been back to that Trader Joe’s since.

photo credit: anna carol

How To Boost Your Breast Milk: The Secret of Masa

Posted on Mar 12, 2021 by No Comments

So I’ve been writing a lot about breast milk lately because, frankly, breast feeding is about all I do these days. Man, it takes all day it seems. My housekeeper - one of the most wonderful women in my life - brought me an elixir from an old family recipe to help me increase my supply. She’s from Mexico and I don’t know if all lactating Mexican women drink this stuff but it’s fan-freaking-tastic!

It’s simple, if you can get the ingredients: 1/2 pound of aasa, a chunk of mexican chocolate and a can (or 2, depending on your sweet tooth) of condensed milk. Blend the masa (it’s basically tortilla dough made from corn flour) with water in the blender then pour that into boiling water (about half full) in a large pot. I don’t know any measurements because she didn’t tell me. Add the chocolate and condensed milk, stir, then cool.

Living in California, it’s not hard to find masa at one of the Mexican delis or groceries. But if you’re in area without a large Mexican-American population you’ll probably find it hard to locate masa. Not sure what the alternative would be in that case.

You can drink it either hot or cold but because it thickens as it cools I prefer to drink it like hot cocoa. It’s kind of like drinking a liquid chocolate tortilla. In fact, it actually IS a liquid chocolate tortilla. Think hot cocoa with a corn like taste, but in a good way.

Anyway, drink it and then break out the breast pump. My supply GREATLY increased - enough to not have to supplement with formula for roughly 3 days (till I ran out and had to find more masa). That’s HUGE in my book. HUGE.

You may also want to check out Mamatini, which I reviewed in an earlier post.

photo credit: christyscherrer

Adorable Baby Faces

Posted on Mar 9, 2021 by No Comments

You know what cracks me up? You know that face a baby makes when she’s hungry and looking for the boobie? She opens her mouth, wiggles her head as if to ready herself to catch a boob as it flies by her. That head jiggle, that searching tongue. So cute!

Of course, that’s before all hell breaks loose and the fists clench and the face turns red and the wailing starts. Oh, that wailing.

But right before that point, right when the baby is thinking, “where is it, where is it? I know it’s around here somewhere! I can catch it. I know I can.”

Just a random thought during breatfeeding…

photo credit: Tim & Selena Middleton

The Magic of Fenugreek for Breast Milk

Posted on Feb 24, 2021 by No Comments

Fenugreek is the miracle breast feeding herb! It’s been taken for centuries to increase breast milk production. In fact, I read that it can increase a woman’s milk production by up to 900% if you can believe that.

I’m taking fenugreek now and have definitely noticed an increase in my milk supply, though I’m not certain what a 900% increase would look like and I’m not certain I wanna know.

I’ve tried capsules as well as drinking it in a new drink called Mamatini and have found that while the capsules are cheaper, drinking it is easier as I forget to take the capsules (or, more accurately forget IF I’ve taken them).

Fenugreek is an herb that is commonly found in curries and chutneys as well as traditional medicine in many parts of the world including India, Greece, China, north Africa and the Middle East. It is a basic ingredient of curry powder and the Five Spice mixtures (used in Asian cooking). It is also used to as an artificial maple syrup flavoring.

There are a number of side effects, but the most funny one to me is smelling like maple syrup. If you take the right dosage you will exude a maple syrup smell. I, personally, haven’t noticed any other side effects.

I found a great website about fenugreek and breastfeeding at kellymom.com that has all you need to know about fenugreek including where to find it, drug interactions and possible side effects for mom and baby. Another good site is breastfeeding.com.

If you’re breastfeeding and need to increase your milk supply, you should definitely check out fenugreek.

Increase Your Breast Milk With Mamatini

Posted on Feb 17, 2021 by No Comments

Oh me, oh my, oh Mamatini. Mamatini- what a great name, no? You know you’re in California when your lactation consultant recommends this new herbal drink to increase your milk production. Mine did and, while wary, I thought I’d give it a try.

I need all the help I can get with this whole breast feeding thing. For as “natural” as breast feeding is, there is nothing that comes naturally about it.

The Mamatini folks were nice enough to send over a few bottles to sample and here’s my take.

First off, Mamatini is deeelicious! Not sweet as I was afraid it would be. You know how some manufacturers kick up the sugar content just because? Not so with these folks.

In fact, Mamatini is a yummy blend of ginger and peppermint, with lots of other herbs and vitamins too. To me, it kind of tastes earthy as if you just lovingly made a pot of herbal tea. You can visit their website to get all the details, but I’m here to say that it really tastes great!

Second, Mamatini does actually increase breast milk production, at least as far as I can tell. The magic ingredient is fenugreek. Each bottle contains 1.5 grams of the milk-enhancing herb that people have been using for centuries. I’ve definitely noticed a difference. I have issues with low milk production (along with all the other not so fun problems breast feeding related) and this stuff really does help.

A funny side effect of fenugreek, you should know, is smelling like maple syrup. Literally, maple syrup. Move over B.O, here comes some syrup…my husband has been craving pancakes ever since I started taking the stuff.

The thing is, you can’t find Mamtini in stores yet. They do sell bottles directly from the website - a case is $40 + $10 shipping and handling. That’s roughly $4 per bottle…a little pricey considering that you can find a bottle of 100 fenugreek capsules for $10 at a health food store.

While buying Mamatini regularly might be little rich for my blood, I will say that it is a fantastic alternative to drinking water ALL the time.

To Pacify or Not To Pacify?

Posted on Mar 20, 2021 by 1 Comment

In our house, we decided that a pacifier was the way to go when at two or three months our daughter was having trouble sleeping.  Well, that is an understatement.  She had a witching hour where she screamed her tiny head off of a full hour, if not longer and the only things that calmed her were the 5 “s”s as advocated by the baby whisperer who wrote Happiest Baby on the Block.  One of those “s”s is sucking and after such termoil with breastfeeding we opted for the pacifier.

Cut to our daughter now at almost 2 years old and what is her most dominant feature?  Her pacifier.  We call it a chewpete (from the spanish word for sucker that I’m certain I’m not spelling correctly).  First off there is absolutely no sleeping without 2 of them - one for her mouth and one for her hand.  She doesn’t keep it in all night long but she needs it right there next to her.  Unfortunately is acts as her lovey as well.

Second is every other time of the day.  It all started innocently enough.  Sophie was allowed her chewpete at night and when she hurt herself.  Then we moved and all of the upheaval surrounding packing and moving affected her so we gave it to her when she was distressed throughout those days.  Then she got really sick and it was one of the only things that calmed her down and, while she was vomitting and so unhappy I didn’t have the heart to take it away.  But now she’s all better and throws a fit when she doesn’t have it unless she is really distracted, like on the playground.

I’m just so unsure of what to do now - do I go through the hassle of weaning her or simply deal with it until she’s ready to part with it?  And, mind you, she does have the personality that leads me to believe that she will one day wake up and be done with it…she’s shown similar fortitude in the past.  Unfortunately I think her father, her grandmother and I have become as addicted to it as she is as the chewpete calms and quiets her.  Not a bad thing when you’re out grocery shopping and the waterworks start to flow.

I never considered I’d be a mom who allowed a pacifier and yet here I am.  Just one more instance in a string of things that I didn’t know that I didn’t know.  Now I know and I’m at a loss as to what to do about it…

Have We Become Our Own Wet Nurses?

Posted on Mar 19, 2021 by No Comments

I was reading an article in the New Yorker about breastfeeding and was stunned at the idea that we, as mothers, may becoming our own wet nurses because of the preference of pumping over breastfeeding.  As a mother who had difficulty with breast feeding because my milk had trouble traveling down my milk ducts to get to my baby, I relied on whatever means possible to give my baby the best that I could.  While formula ultimately became my only option, I find it disheartening to hear about the continued controversy over formula versus breastfeeding.  And now with pumping added to the mix… oiy!

Clearly the nutrients in breast milk are vastly superior to anything that can be manufactured, however, this argument seems to had led to unfortunate consequences.  Here in California, lactation consultants reinforce the practice of breastfeeding to the point of being pushers.  While I applaud the effort, I feel like their emphasis is misplaced.  Instead of reinforcing the notion that breastfeeding is as much about human connection as giving nutrients, the focus on breast milk has not made things better for the baby or the mother.

What a great pity that mothers are being encouraged to do themselves out of what must surely be the most important job in the world, raising the next generation.   Children are being given over to the often very capable hands of day care workers and nannies with bottles of expressed milk.  Capable but can we really say they have the same amount of time and attention needed to fully attune to the new baby.  Breast feeding is about more than giving nutrients to the infant, it is about attunement and bonding.  The first year of a baby’s life is so crucial and so much is now known about the impact of attunement and attachment on infants and the impact of neuronal development.  It’s strange that in a society that is gung ho about the academic development of children so little attention is paid to the all important emotional development which creates stability later on in life.  Surely bonding with mom, more than flash cards and tutors at the age of three, is setting them up for the ability to attend and learn later on.

Not to mention the headache attached to pumping.  Breasts fill and must be drained on a schedule.  The horror stories I’ve heard about women heading off to an icky restroom to pump for 15 minutes is shocking.  I mean would you feed your baby a sandwich in a restroom?   And as for the office restroom, it is dare I say humiliating to be hooked up to a pump like Bessie the cow and have your co-workers come in!  Some offices do have lactation rooms, which is a start, but again that skirts the issue.

I am absolutely not against a mom choosing to return to work after having a baby nor am I opposed to pumping.  What I am opposed to is the lack of discussion around all of the consequences of the myriad choices we mothers have.  Long term consequences.  I feel that, as a society, we should be discussing the effect of day care and nannys as well as breast milk when we discuss what is best for baby.  If we conduct experiments and studies on breast milk, shouldn’t we pay the same attention to the choice to contract out raising our children?

photo credit: Raphael Goetter