Thursday, September 30, 2010

Breastfeeding: Waking a Sleeping Baby

My daughter was born three weeks early and had a case of "sleepy baby syndrome". She slept all the time, even through feedings. So we were told to wake her up for her feedings and to keep her awake during them. I can tell you that it wasn't an easy task. However, I did learn a few tips that I can pass onto you.

Before giving sleepy baby advice I want to give a couple additional helpful tips. What I want to say first is that if your baby is losing weight because of "sleepy baby syndrome" then you need to be careful about how often you are feeding your infant. Make sure to wake baby quite strictly every 2-2.5 hours from the *beginning* of the last feeding. Also keep in mind that you can supplement baby with pumped breastmilk using a syringe or spoon if needed. You do not have to use formula as breastmilk is higher in calories than formula anyhow. Sometimes a Pediatrician will push formula as the solution to this problem but I can promise you there are many other options. Additionally you are typically allowed one 4 hour stretch of sleep at night.

Waking a Sleepy Baby and Keeping Baby Awake while Breastfeeding:

1. Change baby's diaper. This is always the best first thing to try. It often works and it is nice to keep a fresh diaper on a new infant anyhow.

2. Hold baby upright and rub baby's back.

3. Strip baby down to diaper.

4. Gently scratch or rub baby's head, ears, feet, or back.

5. While feeding use breast compressions. This is where you squeeze your breast above the areola, gently and in slow repetitions.

6. If all these steps fail you can put a damp washcloth or diaper wipe on baby's feet.

7. When every step above fails some parents resort to washing baby's face with cool water. This is something that only should be resorted to after you have repeatedly tried the above steps. It is not pleasant for baby and is only a last resort.

Take Action: Facebook deletes breastfeeding photos

Facebook is one of the leading social networking sites. Currently Facebook has over 500 million active users and approximately fifty percent of those users log in daily. It is far reaching. I admit that I enjoy Facebook tremendously.

This social networking site may be fun and a pleasure to use but they endorse a practice that is highly deserving of admonishment. I have considered deleting my Facebook account several times due to this practice but would prefer a more proactive approach. They delete pictures of women breastfeeding if any areola or nipple is showing in the picture. Additionally they delete entire profile's of women in some circumstances for having these types of pictures.

These pictures are on personal sites. So the only people that are seeing them are people who choose to look at your pictures. Additionally they are on Facebook groups so once again are only seen by people who choose to join a group and look at the pictures. They are not innocently stumbled upon and they are not put in the face of the general population. There is no legitimate reason these pictures should be deleted.

Here is the statement by Facebook on this policy:

"We agree that breastfeeding is natural and beautiful and we’re very glad to know that it is so important to some mothers to share this experience with others on Facebook. We take no action on the vast majority of breastfeeding photos because they follow the site’s Terms of Use. Photos containing a fully exposed breast (as defined by showing the nipple or areola) do violate those Terms and may be removed. These policies are designed to ensure Facebook remains a safe, secure and trusted environment for all users, including the many children (over the age of 13) who use the site."

The idea that exposure of the breast when breastfeeding is somehow unsafe or insecure is really quite disgusting and practically it is unfounded. This is coming from a site who regularly allows pictures of women in bikinis, thongs, and doing all sorts of socially questionable activities. This site also allows pictures of artificial nipples because what else is bottle other than an artificial nipple?

Forget the morality of the issue for a minute though. Public breastfeeding is protected by law in all but two states within the United States. Women have a legal right to have pictures of them nurturing and comforting their child at the breast.

Take Action:

1. Include breastfeeding photos in your Facebook photo albums.

2. Do not put up with people reporting your pictures. Make it clear that if someone reports one of your breastfeeding pictures, no matter who they are, they will no longer be a friend on your Facebook account. The majority of photos deleted have been reported to Facebook by someone with access to those photos.

3. Join this Facebook group which is aimed at letting Facebook know that it's members do not agree with their policy. "Hey Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!"

4. Contact Facebook and let them know that you do not support their policy. The more of us that do this the better. You can do this by sending Mark Zuckerberg a private message directly. If you have other ways of contacting Facebook on this matter please let me know.

5. Make this a point on your own blog or website. Ask your friends to do the same. Let's make a big deal out of this!

If you have additional ways we can make a call to action against Facebook in this regard please leave them in the comments section.

Facebook Statistics Source

Facebook's Policy on Breastfeeding Pictures Source

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Breastfeeding: Lipase Solutions for Working Moms

If your milk tastes or smells odd after freezing and you are sure it hasn't had time to sour then you may be wondering what is wrong. Or perhaps you've already figured it out and are just looking for solutions.

Some mothers have an excessive amount of Lipase in their breastmilk. Lipase naturally occurs in all breast milk, just more so in some mothers. The indication of a lipase issue is that you freeze your milk properly and thaw it properly and after doing so your milk tastes bad. These tastes are often described as soapy, sour, or skunky. Milk with excessive lipase is okay to feed your infant but the problem occurs when a baby does not like the funny taste and thus refuses to drink it.

The proper way to deal with excessive lipase is to scald your milk before you freeze it.

How to Scald:

* Put your pumped or expressed breastmilk in a sauce pan and heat to approximately 180 F (82 C). This will generally be when you see little bubbles around the edge of the pan. Do not heat to a full rolling boil.

* Quickly cool and store the milk.
(caveat: some moms prefer to heat only to 160 because it is believed to leave a small amount more nutrients, for some mothers this will work and for some it will not).

It is a bit extra work to scald your milk but generally this method works and all is well. However if you are planning to return to work you may be wondering how you can possible deal with all these extra steps. Don't fret it can be done quite simply!

First however you need to run a couple of tests to find out what method will work for you.

Test #1: Express your milk and put it in the refrigerator. Test hourly for taste. How long does it take to turn sour?

The purpose of this test is to let you know how long it takes for your milk to start tasting bad. If it does not start tasting bad until well after 24 hours then you may not need to freeze your milk at all. You can simply pump and put it in the fridge for the next day.

Test #2: Express your milk and put it in the refrigerator for the same amount of time you'd be at work . Then scald the milk. Repeat first test.

The purpose of this test is to see if after scalding and freezing your milk will thaw without tasting bad. If you pass this test then you know that scalding will work for you. Go back to the findings of test one. Assess how long you will be at work. If you are going to be at work for 8 hours and your milk does not start tasting bad until 10 hours refrigerated then you can simply pump your milk at work, store it, and bring it home to scald.
Test #3: Repeat test two except heat milk to 160 F instead of 180 F or visa versa depending on where you started.

The purpose of this test is simply to see if you can heat to a lower amount as to possibly leave a few additional nutrients in your milk. Your breastmilk still has plenty of wonderful nutrients at 180 degrees, so this is an optional test.

Test #4: Use a bottle warmer to scald your milk. Most moms say this takes them a minute or two. You may need to experiment with this until you find the right way to scald your milk using this device.

If after completing the first three tests you realize your milk tastes bad quite shortly after pumping, if you have not scalded it, then you know you need to scald while at work. This is typically possible using a bottle warmer. After pumping at work then scald your milk using a bottle warmer then cool. Freeze when you get home.

Information obtained from and I am always open to corrections and feedback on additional ways to help tackle this issue.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sleep Solution: Replace Your Mommy Mantra

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"Will this child ever sleep?"

"I am so tired."

"It's 3:00 a.m. so if baby goes to sleep now I'll get 4 hours of sleep."

"How am I going to function tomorrow?"

"This happens every night."

"I wish baby would just stop crying."

Do these phrases sound familiar? Think about them carefully. What mantra do you repeat to yourself when you are up late with your baby, toddler, or child?

Such mantras add more stress to your life. Positive thinking can go a long way to changing your feelings about difficult situations.

I understand that the solution I'm hinting at seems overly simple. For that reason many of you will dismiss this advice and continue doing what hasn't been working. That is your right. However, ask your self this: what would it hurt to try this out? This method takes little extra time and minimal effort to try out. If you are at the point of considering parenting methods that are not widely considered gentle you might as well give this a try.
Here is the method:

1. Turn your clock around to face the wall.

2. Do nothing physically different tonight (or the next night your sweet child is up all night or having trouble going down to sleep). But keep a pen and paper nearby. When you start feeling overwhelmed write down the thoughts that repeat in your mind.

3. The next day when you are feeling a bit more refreshed read over your mommy mantras. Consider how unhelpful they are. Consider this: In the moment that you are completely exhausted and frustrated you don't have too much control over how the night turns out and thus how much sleep you and baby get.

4. Now replace your mommy mantras with something useful. This may take a bit of thought or a night or two of trial and error. Practice repeating this mantra throughout the day.

5. The next time you have a long night stop yourself when you are repeating the negative mommy mantras. If you must wear a hairband around your wrist and snap it when you start the negative thought process then do it. For some that is effective but most will not need it. If the physical pain of the wrist snap makes you even more frustrated then take a sip of water each time you say something negative.

6. Now replace your negative mantras with your positive ones. Repeat as necessary. Absolutely do not let the negative ones repeat. As soon as you notice it, even the feeling of it, stop it.

Give the method a week and after the week assess how well you have been completing the steps. You can't do it halfway. You must be committed. If you have followed the steps appropriately then assess if it has been working for you. Are you less stressed about night wakings or bedtime? If it has worked for you then fantastic. If not then it's time to move on to more extensive sleep solutions. Or perhaps you just need to find another way to stop the negative mommy mantra.

In addition to replacing your mantra with something positive find other ways to enjoy bedtime or night wakings. Tape a favorite tv show and watch it (you may need to put the caption on), start a painting that you only work on at night, have a night yoga routine, save a special sweet treat for these exhausting nights, record some positive mood music. I know that enjoying this time is difficult but it is possible or mostly possible.

I've been trying to get my little girl to sleep for several hours now only to finally get her down to sleep. She will wake several more times tonight but I'm not worried about that, the worst is over for us tonight. During our difficult sleep session tonight I had a brief moment of reflection that led me to type this out. I thought to myself "wow, I am amazingly calm, why?". Thankfully I could identify the answer. I used to be a sleep freak. I mean I coveted my sleep. Of course I was a huge sufferer of insomnia and plenty of other sleep issues so sleep was a huge commodity for me. What made my sleepless nights most difficult was the negative mantras I would say to myself and the constant clock checking. Once I was able to stop these behaviors I ended up relaxing so much more about bedtime. Now I'm grateful that I've had that experience, it has served me well as a mommy.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Gentle Discipline: Book Recommendations

Gentle Discipline Books

I am a proponent of using gentle discipline for every situation. I do not feel as if any situation warrants causing physical harm to your child and I do not think that physical harm is an affective teaching tool. In fact quite a research supports me but I'm not talking today about the pros and cons of physical punishment. What I am here to do is provide you with alternatives!

My confession is as follows: My darling daughter is now nearing seven months old. So that means I cannot yet speak from parenting experience. I do have an abundance of work related experience but I will not get into that. My intent is to arm myself with as many tools as possible so that when my daughter is old enough to need discipline I will have tools to use that do not require physical punishment. The reason I made this confession is because instead of offering gentle discipline techniques, at this point, I am going to offer you some reading material. In the future I hope to be able to provide information on said techniques.

If you feel that there is a book that needs to be added to my list or a book that does not fit the scope of gentle, natural, or attachment parenting please let me know in the comments section. Additionally if parents who have read these books want to help me create book summaries that would be very helpful.

Recommended Reading:

1. Parenting with Love and Logic

2. Playful Parenting

3. Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishment to Love and Reason

4. Nonviolent Communication

5. Adventures in Gentle Discipline

6. Discipline without Distress

7. The Discipline Book (by Sears)

8. Hold on to Your Kids

9. Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids

10. How to talk so your kids will listen and listen so your kids will talk

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Breastfeeding: A Biting Baby!

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Ouch! S/he Bit Me!

One of the most predominant fears new moms have is how they are going to nurse when baby starts getting teeth. So when the first bite happens sometimes a bit of panic sets in, especially when baby thinks moms squeals of pain are super funny. I've got good news though. Not all moms will have a biting baby and those that do recover from it!

Here are my recommendations on dealing with a biting baby.

1. Assess for distractability. If biting is happening predominantly at the end of a nursing session then it is likely baby is just finished eating and is now using you as a "chew toy" so to speak. Delatch and let baby play. Or if baby is biting at the very beginning it could be that baby is in pain and doesn't really want to nurse or that you should take the measures in step 2. This also means allowing your baby to choose when to nurse. If you try to nurse LO when they aren't ready you are upping your chances for getting bit.

2. Assess for teething (which is the predominant reasons babies bite at the breast). If baby is teething then offer a cold or frozen washcloth before nursing. Or better yet put some ice in a mesh feeder or tied off baby sock. This will help the gums feel better and reduce the need for baby to chew on you.

3. When baby bites delatch. Every time. What seems to be the most affective delatching procedure for a biting baby is to pull baby into your breast so they have to delatch. You can alternatively stick a finger in baby's mouth to delatch.

4. Say a firm but gentle "No" or if you are trying not to use that word say "That Hurts" or "Ouch", anything as long as it is consistent. Verbal communication is important but must be followed through with action. Be aware of your tone when saying 'no', don't make it too playful or too scary.

5. Offer something for baby to bite on that is okay. They make teething bling you can wear around your neck. Redirect the biting to this or something else baby enjoys to bite. You might have to explore what that is. If you are comfortable offering a knuckle or finger that can help too.

6. Do not over react! This is very important. It probably doesn't seem like overreacting to you when you scream 'ouch' after baby bites because it really hurts. But if your baby is smiling or acting like this is fun then it was an overreaction. We don't want baby to think this is a game. Alternatively if your baby becomes upset at the thought of nursing you could have really scared them and now need to coax them back into it, very slowly and gently.

7. Encourage baby when s/he does not bite! Positive reinforcement is very important in teaching any lesson.

8. Have patience and be consistent. Stick to the routine and in time baby will get it. Don't give up too soon. Babies need time to learn. Usually about two weeks, sometimes shorter, if you've been consistent and you will see change. If not then re-asses what you are doing. Keep in mind that once teething is over this will likely end.

If your nipple becomes damaged from biting then please seek help from an IBCLC or your favorite La Leche Leader. You don't want nipple damage to stop you from nursing!

Keep in mind moms that this may be the first discipline measure you are taking with your child. You want it to be a positive experience for both you and set the tone for the future :).

If your nipple becomes damaged from biting then please seek help from an IBCLC or your favorite La Leche Leader. You don't want nipple damage to stop you from nursing!

Keep in mind moms that this may be the first discipline measure you are taking with your child. You want it to be a positive experience for both you and set the tone for the future :).

Edited 12/27/10 to remove elements of love-withdrawl

Monday, September 6, 2010

Take Action: Mother Friendly Workspace

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It's not easy being a working mother today in the United States. Workplaces often value economics and individual accomplishment more than they do the worker and what makes them well and happy. It's simply about the bottom-line, profit. Of course these same workplaces seem to ignore the data that concludes having a mother-friendly workplace actually helps their profit. I suppose that given our culture of individual success as the utmost accomplishment it's hard to believe that by providing workplace mother-friendly provisions we would actually benefit economically.

There are a variety of options employers can use to make their workplace more mother-friendly:1. Allowing moms to bring their babies to work
2. On-Site Daycare
3. Having a nursing and pumping lounge and creating an atmosphere where mothers feel
comfortable pumping
4. Offering paid maternity and paternity leave

Some of these are more revolutionary than others and some cost more than others. Let's do a bit of imagining. What if every workplace simply offered an on-site daycare? How would that change the face of mothering? No worrying about extraordinary daycare costs, if you breastfeed you would be able to use lunches and breaks to nurse instead of pump and if you don't breastfeed then you'd be able to use that time to hold your baby and feed them as well. Moms wouldn't have to worry they were jeopardizing their relationship with their family by returning to work. Employers would benefit by having parents who are more committed to their workplace and have to take off less time because their child is within walking distance. It's a beautiful scenario. It would also create more jobs which, especially in this economy, is always a fantastic benefit. I understand that it comes at an initial cost to the employer and that is why we need to advocate for the government to subsidize the creation of the daycare and give tax breaks that help offset the cost of hiring the daycare provider. Of course if you continue reading below you will see that providing these benefits already provides an employer with a return on their investment.

We have reached a fantastic milestone but still have a long road ahead of us. Within the new federal health bill is a provision that allows mother's who work in places that employ more than 50 people to pump at work so long as their child is one year old or younger. These places must provide pumping breaks and a place for moms to pump: "Employers are required to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.” Employers are also required to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”" To read more visit the following website: Fact Sheet - Break Time for Nursing Mothers and the following website: Health Care Reform Boosts Support for Employed Breastfeeding Mothers.

The United States Breastfeeding Committee also put out a paper that outlines how and why allowing lactation breaks in the workplace is needed and beneficial to the business: Workplace Accommodations to Support and Protect Breastfeeding.

I realize that previously I said something about how employers actually get a return on their investment and save money when adopting mother-friendly policies. I'm sure some of you are questioning the validity of this especially if you are business owners or managers yourselves. So I want to provide you with more information on that matter. According to Babies in the Workplace bringing a baby to work offers several benefits: earlier return to work, increased employee retention, increased morale, enhanced teamwork, attraction of new employees, lower health costs, increased overall productivity, attraction of new customers, higher customer loyalty, and low implementation costs. See the website linked above for data on each of these benefits. In addition to those benefits research has shown that businesses do get an economic return on this investment of providing accommodations for nursing mothers. According to The United States Breastfeeding Committee, backed by research, at the level of basic accommodation for a one dollar investment the business gains a two dollar return. However, at the level of comprehensive accommodation for a one dollar investment the business gains a three dollar return. This is a pretty substantial financial return. Here is a brochure that outlines how businesses benefit from having such accommodations: The Business Case for Breastfeeding.

What we can do:

1. Write Senator Merkley of Oregon and thank him for putting the new federal pumping guidelines in the Health bill. Express your desire to see more mother friendly laws put into place.

2. Write your own Senator and provide him with information from the links in this article. Tell him how as his constituent you want to see him support mother friendly laws.

3. Provide the company you work for, or a mother friend works for, with the brochure linked above.

4. Start a mother's-at-work group in your area and discuss ways you can advocate for change.

Useful Link: Contact Your Senator Information Online

If you have more ideas on how we can create change in this area please let me know in the comments section.

On a personal level I faced the decision myself: go back to work and pump leaving my twelve week old baby in the arms of another or stay at home and be financially destitute but be her primary care provider and have no possibility of jeopardizing our nursing relationship. It was both the most difficult and easiest decision I ever made. I'm now a stay at home mom thanks to my wonderful husband who works like crazy to keep our heads mostly above water. Also thanks to government programs like WIC that help mothers who are low-income. I don't like relying on government help but I'm willing to sacrifice my comfort to give my child what I feel is the best. Before quitting my job however I gave them an option, let me bring my baby to work. I worked in a community room that was equipped with a television, couch, kitchen, and computer lab. It was the perfect area to allow a more progressive approach for the working mother. My request was denied and I gave up my health insurance to stay home with my daughter, unable to get more because of pre-existing conditions. If I would have chosen to work my entire paycheck, save about sixty dollars, would have went to paying for daycare costs. It simply wasn't worth it. So although now we are living at the poverty level I can rest at night because I am able to give my daughter unquestionably the best care available, that of her mother. I hope that my own daughter is never put in this position.