Monday, August 22, 2011

The Relief Bottle

When my son was born, I was lucky that my husband was able to take a few weeks off to be with us. Because he is also a teacher, after his leave was up it was winter break, so he was home for an additional two weeks. In that time, my son and I were working out our breastfeeding difficulties and finally settling into some semblance of a routine. I was getting used to my new reality, which of course involved getting up several times a night to breastfeed. My son slept in his bassinet at first, so it was only a matter of reaching over and picking him up but he would scream bloody murder when I went to change his diaper and I'd have to nurse him back down to sleep again. Shortly after he made his way into our bed and at that point I barely had to do anything but unhook my bra. He seemed to seek out and find my nipple on his own and I eventually was able to sleep through most of his feedings.

But after the new year when my husband was back at work, I did start to feel resentful at times that as I sat up breastfeeding or carried the baby to his room for a diaper change, my husband was snoring away, totally oblivious. I just wanted a stretch of uninterrupted sleep and it seemed really unfair that I had to take 100% responsibility for all of the feedings. I had read about moms pumping a bottle so that their partners could share in the feeding duties and it seemed like a great idea. I had a pump, I'd just put a 4 oz bottle of breastmilk on ice in our bedroom and when the baby woke up, I'd happily hand him off to Daddy and roll over and go back to sleep for another three hours. Score!

Except....not so much. I had to practically kick my husband awake and I couldn't fall back to sleep so I was up for the entire feeding anyway. Then it took quite a bit of jiggling/walking to get Miles back to sleep after, and I was awake through all of that too. In the morning I was engorged. After a couple more nights of this, I had a plugged milk duct and I was through. The relief bottle was more of a hindrance than a help.

I'm always surprised when moms say this arrangement worked for them. Obviously if it works for you, then yay and keep at it. But this idea that pumping a bottle so dad can take over a nightfeed never seems to come with the caveat that it can lead to other problems. And the advice to pump a bottle so dad can share in the feedings never seems to come with any advice on how to do this while still managing your milk supply.

So what say you? Yay or nay on the relief bottle?
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Quote of the Day: Tia Mowry on breastfeeding

I shared this on my Facebook page, but I know not everyone checks in there and I thought it was worth a posting of its own.

Tia Mowry on breastfeeding new baby, Cree.

"I love it. It is the one time we can connect and just spend some quiet time together. I just fall more and more in love with him when I do so. Rubbing his hair and seeing him smile just melts my heart. He also seems most content when nursing. Maybe because he is so close to my heart."

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The Home Stretch

So we are now doing the final countdown to when our baby girl will arrive (Squee! Yay! Woot! etc). The time seems to have flown in some ways, although these last few weeks have been brutal. I've had a lot of difficulty sleeping and have felt so run down. I don't remember feeling this way at all while pregnant with Miles. It was pretty much smooth sailing except for super swollen feet for the last week weeks that puffed up so big I thought they were going to explode at times. This pregnancy has, in the grand scheme of things, been very easy too, with some notable differences. I was much more nauseous during the first trimester, but still never puked. I also just realized last night that I have a linea negra this time around, as well as some slight "pregnancy mask" darkening on my cheeks. It's amazing to me that it took me 36 weeks to notice, but when you have a job and another kid to worry about, it's funny how little time you have to pay attention to your pregnancy.

Anyway, I signed up for one of those weekly emails from BabyCenter and this week's assured me that since I've gotten the nursery ready and all of the clothes are washed and put away, I can just relax and wait for the baby to arrive. Errrmm, no. I haven't washed a damn thing and the nursery is a jumbled mess. My husband installed the fan and put together the crib and I have bought lots of cute stuff on Etsy to decorate it with, but everything is still in boxes. My diapers need to be pre-treated, we need curtains to cover the closet doors and some decorative pictures would be nice too.

With everything going on, I also forgot to really buy any clothes for the baby. Some generous friends gave me lots of their hand-me-downs which are in great condition and super cute, but I was feeling guilty that already this baby was getting the short end of the stick. Thankfully I was recently invited to do some shopping at The Children's Place to preview their Fall collection. I instinctively headed over to the boys' section before reminding myself that this trip was all about baby girl.

The amount of cute in the baby girl section was mind-blowing and I probably went a little bit nuts. Twee hot pink booties? Sure! Knit floral dress with MATCHING BLOOMERS? Yes, please!

I used to laugh inside when friends would show up to a playdate at the park and their daughters were wearing tutus with matching glittery ballerina slippers.....but then I totally picked up these:

I also completely fell in love with their fall Woodland Creatures collection. These pieces match the cute Happi Tree line I bought for the nursery. I guess this owl motif is very popular now!

I was also happy to see lots of purple in the line (it's my favorite color) so I also grabbed up this hoodie and some purple Tees with matching leggings.

I'm excited about the new stuff and can't wait to put it on the baby! Now, if you see me plastering a giant flower on my baby's hairless head, please tap me on the shoulder and suggest I seek help.

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Monday, August 8, 2011

World Breastfeeding Week 2011: What did you do?

This was quite the eventful World Breastfeeding Week! We got the CDC's 2011 breastfeeding report card, along with a scathing indictment of hospital practices that undermine breastfeeding in Vital Signs magazine. We learned that the Affordable Care Act would include coverage for IBCLCs and breast pump purchases. A study in Pediatrics confirmed what lactation consultants already knew: that clipping a tongue tie greatly improved both mothers' comfort while nursing and breastfeeding duration.

I was lucky enough to attend an event at a local hospital on Sunday that included speakers, giveaways, a fashion show and a yummy catered lunch. The invitees were mostly moms who had given birth at that hospital recently or were planning to give birth there soon. I got to meet some local IBCLCs and doulas and see lots and lots of adorable babies. I was pleased to see that nearly every mom there was wearing her baby (and not in no Baby Bjorn nonsense, I'm talking Mobys and Mayas and Ergos everywhere!) and I saw lots and lots of breastfeeding, some of it without a cover. Whoo hoo! (It's the small things that make a lactivist really happy, no?)

But I'd like to hear what you all did to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week. Did you attend a Big Latch On event? Did your local breastfeeding coalition or La Leche League group put something together? Let me know how you marked this historic week in the comments.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

CDC releases 2011 Breastfeeding Report Card

The CDC recently released its fifth annual Breastfeeding Report Card. Click over to see how well (or poorly) your state is doing in terms of breastfeeding initation rates, breastfeeding at 6 months and 12 months, and exclusive breastfeeding at 3 months and 6 months.

As always, I take some of these numbers with a grain of salt. Almost no one is using the term "exclusive breastfeeding" in the same way. Some moms will say they are "exclusive breastfeeding" their 9 month old, meaning he is not getting any formula, though he is getting solid food. Many moms don't count any supplementary bottles that were given to their babies either in the hospital or at home before breastfeeding was established. I think we also know that some women initiate breastfeeding in the hospital with little to no intention to continuing once they get home.

Not surprisingly, not much has changed with these numbers. The Southern states have the lowest rates across the board, with the Pacific Northwest and West coast having some of the best. Although there was an increase in exclusive breastfeeding rates at 3 and 6 months since the initial report card in 2007, we still have a long way to go.

The CDC acknowledges that child care providers play an important role in whether or not employed women are successful at continuing to breastfeed. While the Healthy People 2020 goals include increasing the proportion of employers that have worksite lactation programs, and the government requiring businesses to provide time and space for working moms to pump, I still don't see anyone fighting for paid parental leave, which would have a much bigger impact on breastfeeding rates, in my opinion. I'd also like to see more women allowed to bring their babies to work.

So how are things looking in your state? Are you noticing any improvement? Will this country ever get an A on this report card?

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Breastfeeding Support Covered Under Affordable Care Act

Good news, just in time for World Breastfeeding Week. While many have been jumping for joy over the expansion of the Affordable Care Act to include birth control for all insured women without a copay or deductible,  many articles have failed to point out that the new guidelines also cover breastfeeding support. That's right, the government has decided that breastfeeding is actually preventative health care and that lactation support, including visits to an IBCLC and renting a breast pump, should be covered by insurance at no cost. “The Affordable Care Act helps stop health problems before they start,” said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “These historic guidelines are based on science and existing literature and will help ensure women get the preventive health benefits they need.”

These new guidelines are effective as of August 1, 2011, but depending on your plan and insurance provider, you may not actually take advantage of them until the new plan year, on or before August 1, 2012. And yes, you may take advantage of this in conjunction with every birth of a child.

For a full list of preventive health care services now covered under the Act, see the HRSA guidelines available online.

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