Happy Easter and Happy Birthday to my first born! I have been wanting to revive the blog for a while now and was inspired by Easter also being Clara’s birthday. Without her, I don’t know that I would’ve changed career fields to become a lactation consultant.
During my pregnancy, I actually hadn’t thought much about breastfeeding at all. I did not take a breastfeeding class other than the session in my childbirth education series when we discussed breastfeeding. When people would ask if I planned to breastfeed, my response was always the same, “eh – I will try it and see how it goes”.
I actually do not even remember the first time Clara latched. The birth experience was overwhelming and thinking back now 9 years ago, is a bit of a blur. What I do remember about our first breastfeeding experience is that it hurt. I had a doula at my birth who had 6 children and she had breastfed them all. She was helping me try to latch Clara in the hospital. We would get Clara latched and I would wince in pain. She would tell me that the latched looked good/right. I remember shaking my head and needing to break the latch. Eventually I had cracked, bleeding nipples. At times I did not want to latch her due to the pain but knew I needed to, so I did. We were discharged with an order to do at-home bilirubin treatment because she was jaundiced. The company where we were to pick up our bili blanket did not have any more blankets. We had to get a bili bed. I didn’t know the difference then, but now understand why the blanket is much preferred to the bed. The bed was hard and Clara had no desire to be on it. She screamed. All the time. She was turning more yellow by the day. We had to go daily to the hospital to get her heel pricked to check her bili levels. I think we did this for 3 days in a row until finally her levels were low enough we could stop going. I was worried she was starving in those first few days and that was why she screamed so much. I gave her formula from the samples that we got in the mail. I felt like after her bottle she maybe stopped screaming for about 20 minutes, so I was convinced she needed formula. I had no idea how much to give her so I am sure we overfed her.
At some point, I started using a nipple shield – just for one side. She just seemed like she wouldn’t latch to this one side well without it, so I kept using it. Except our dog really liked them. So if I set it down somewhere after feeding, he would pick it up and eat it. I feel pretty confident we went through at least 8 of them. We found a whole garden of nipple shields in our backyard when using the pooper scooper.
I also started pumping very early on (less than a week). I don’t remember getting much (anything?) until finally day 5, I started noticing milk when I pumped. And the pump? That contraption looked so foreign and unnatural to me. I had no idea that the milk didn’t flow through the tubing! But, oddly, I found some peace in pumping. It made me feel like I had some control over what felt like an out of control situation. The pumping also allowed me to have a few moments of semi-quiet and alone time as I would pump by myself in her nursery. I was amazed at how someone so small could scream so loud, but yet I had no idea how to help her stop crying. I felt helpless and overwhelmed by this whole parenting thing.
Eventually, it seemed like Clara and I figured out breastfeeding. After the first couple weeks, it seems like things got a little easier, but still not easy. My nipples healed, she weaned from the nipple shield, I stopped using the formula. Around the 3 month mark is when I felt like I actually *enjoyed* breastfeeding and wanted to continue. But, it took a while to get there. We went on to breastfeed for just shy of 2 years. Had you asked me at week 1 how long I would breastfeed, I never would’ve thought that I would breastfeed her for 2 years.
To all the families who have allowed me to be part of their breastfeeding journey, especially in those early days and weeks, thank you. I remember this as such an intense, vulnerable, special, and emotional time - and to allow me to be part of your breastfeeding and parenting journey is an honor and a privilege.
Happy Birthday to my Clara Beara - thank you for changing my life forever <3.
Olympia Lactation is expanding its services! We are excited to announce office visits will now be available. AND, the best part about these office visits is that we can accept most insurance! What this means is that the same care you receive in your home will be offered in a home-like office setting. These appointments will be up to 90 minutes in length, thorough, and you will leave with a plan to help meet your breastfeeding goals. Follow-up visits will be available so that we can continue to track your progress.
These visits will be overseen by a physician so if there are any needs such as prescriptions, diagnoses, etc. those can be addressed too. The office is at Whole Health Naturopathy who has just relocated to 1212 4th Ave E in Olympia.
Having this opportunity is something that I have dreamed of since starting in this role. I believe that this will increase access to lactation services which is something I feel strongly about and believe all families deserve.
We will still continue to offer home visits and provide a superbill for your insurance to request reimbursement.
Please contact us if you have any questions!
It's summer time! Many people take trips or family vacations during this time. If you are traveling with a newborn or infant/toddler, here's a few tips that may be helpful. Having lived overseas for the entire time my children were little (under 3), we have flown and traveled a lot with them and I'm hoping I can pass on a few tips that may help:
Hope this info help a little! Don't let baby be the reason you stay home and miss out on summer adventures! What tips do you have for traveling with little ones?
I am so excited to announce that Olympia Lactation will be offering a weekly breastfeeding support group! Some of my closest friends are those that I met who had babies similar in age to mine and who were also deep in the trenches of parenting. Weekly, we'd come together for coffee, chat, and to breastfeed. I have been wanting to offer this since moving to the area because I feel it's such an important piece of parenting - to have a safe place to go and feel supported OR to just have some adult conversations that didn't necessarily revolve around babies, breastfeeding or being tired.
These weekly groups are going to be kicked off during World Breastfeeding Week which is August 1-7, 2017. The first group will be on Wednesday, August 2 from 10-12 at 1026 State Ave NE (at New Day Midwifery). Facebook event is here. Light snacks will be available and of course a scale to weigh your baby. This first event is FREE! Subsequent events will be free to Olympia Lactation clients and just $5 for anyone else interested in attending (which can be credited towards a consult in the future). Coffee, tea, and small snack will always be offered.
Hope to see you then!
Here in the PNW, we have been catching glimpses of summer – with (finally!) warm temps and beautiful sunny days! With the warmer temps parents often wonder if baby needs extra water to stay hydrated. The short answer is no. Breastmilk will keep your baby hydrated. Breastmilk is 88% water! Breastmilk is designed to meet baby’s nutritional requirements for both hunger *AND* thirst. Sometimes babies want to feed, not because they are hungry, but because they are thirsty. Allowing baby unlimited access to feeds will ensure he or she is getting adequate amount of milk to quench his or her thirst.
Prior to 2 months of age, giving water to baby can put baby at risk for filling up on water (which is void of nutrients) instead of your nutrient dense breastmilk. It could cause baby to be less interested in feeding and negatively affect weight gain. If baby is even younger, less than 5 weeks, offering water can actually be dangerous by diluting sodium levels in baby which can lead to seizures or brain damage.
If your baby is 6 months old and has started eating solid foods, sometimes parents will give a small amount of water to baby with solids. This amount should be minimal (2oz or less in 24 hours) and is more for practice drinking from a cup (it does not need to be in a bottle!). Or, even better, if you have expressed milk, you can put some of your milk in a cup for baby to drink. If baby is having slow weight gain, I would omit the water altogether and use expressed milk in a cup.
Another option for providing a water source for baby which also has nutrients is to offer some fruit, again, if baby is at least 6 months old. Cold fruit is a great summer snack and most fruits are primarily water. Watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, peaches are all great choices! That said, again just keep in mind that water requirements for babies 6 months old and older can still predominantly be met with breastmilk :)
IBCLC is not a term that everyone is familiar with. So if you happened to see “Happy IBCLC Day!” somewhere on social media recently and thought to yourself: what the heck is that and why is it happy? I am here to explain.
IBCLC is an acronym that stands for International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. It’s a credential that is awarded after years of clinical training, lactation education, and successful completion of a board exam. The cool thing about IBCLCs is that we are internationally recognized so that if someone is an IBCLC, it means regardless of the country we are in, we have all completed a required level of training, possess similar competencies, and have passed our board exam. There are IBCLC’s in 102 countries around the world!
IBCLCs come from a variety of backgrounds. Many are nurses, many are not (myself included). I can’t speak for others, but for me, I became interested in becoming an IBCLC after having my own children. I struggled with breastfeeding with my first baby, and then again about 9 months in to nursing with my 2nd. Having overcome difficulties with both children, it motivated me to want to help other moms and families succeed in meeting their breastfeeding goals.
For many of us, being an IBCLC is a second or possibly third career. I know IBCLCs who, in another life, were teachers, attorneys, stay-at-home-moms, chemists, psychologists. Others have reported being a massage therapist, carpenter, physician, marine biologist, administrative/executive assistant, mechanical engineer, and even a Russian linguist for the U.S. military! Such diverse backgrounds mean that each IBCLC will have his or her own unique style of supporting families. And yes, there are males that are lactation consultants – a question that comes up frequently.
So, what is IBCLC day? IBCLC Day was developed by ILCA (International Lactation Consultant Association) to recognize the important role of the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and the specialized knowledge each has to make a difference in the lives of breastfeeding families. If an IBCLC helped you with breastfeeding, please let that person know! Nothing warms our hearts more than hearing from someone we have helped! (except maybe chocolate) ;)
Last night, my entire neighborhood lost power for no apparent reason. No storm, no planned outage - it just flickered once and then went out in the middle of dinner. I talked to my kiddos about what it means when the power is out and what all is impacted (they are 4 and 7). Since we were eating, I explained that we couldn't heat up any more food in the microwave because it's run on power (don't judge - it was leftover night and we are fancy!). I also talked about how I didn't want them opening the refrigerator and just standing there - I don't really know anyone's child who does this, right?! Anyway, it got me thinking -- what if I were a breastfeeding mom and had milk stored in the refrigerator or freezer? Yikes!
I thought I would outline a few basic guidelines regarding current breastmilk storage and what to do if you unexpectedly lose power.
*Please note that these guidelines are for healthy, full-term babies.
Freshly pumped milk - up to 8 hours. Typically, you will hear 4-6 hours, but up to 8 is considered safe, especially if the container is sealed and room is cool.
Refrigerated milk - up to 7 days. Commonly you will hear to use within 3-5 days, but again up to about 7 days is acceptable.
Frozen milk - up to 12 months in a deep freeze, and in a standard freezer up to 6 months.
Always label your expressed milk with date and time so that you can use the oldest first.
If your power goes out and you have pumped milk, minimize the opening of the refrigerator or freezer doors. If you have easy access to a cooler and ice, you can quickly load a cooler full of ice and place your milk in there. Of course, this requires you to open your refrigerator/freezer doors, so work as quickly as you can. Milk with ice packs in a cooler is good for about 24 hours.
If it's cold outside, you can also grab your milk and place it outside. If it's well below freezing you may be able to keep the milk frozen. Or, if it's below 40, the outside temps would be similar to your refrigerator temp (ideal temp of a refrigerator is somewhere around 35).
Once the power returns, check your frozen milk - if there are still ice crystals present, it hasn't completely thawed and can be refrozen.
I hope everyone has had a peaceful and healthy start to the new year. Along with the dawn of a new year comes many a resolution(s). I've never been all that great personally at keeping my resolutions so I usually rename them as "priorities". So instead of saying that my resolution is to lose x number of pounds I focus on what I need to do to get there, namely increasing exercise and eating healthy, and try to prioritize those things in my life. Anyway, enough about me.
I wanted to post this blog specifically as it relates to weight loss and breastfeeding. I know many mamas are ready to shed extra baby weight, and often the new year provides motivation to focus on that goal. Here are a few common questions regarding losing weight and breastfeeding:
Doesn't breastfeeding burn an extra 500 calories per day? Won't I lose weight anyway?
The answer is that breastfeeding can burn UP TO an extra 500/cals per day but that number may be different for different women. And some women feel very hungry when breastfeeding and may compensate for those extra calories burned by taking in more food because the fact is, they're just hungrier! Feeding another person is no small feat! So while your body may be burning extra calories you may feel hungrier and any extra calories burned may be negated by eating more. A close friend told me after she started breastfeeding her first baby that she’d never felt that hungry in her entire life!
Can I do a cleanse or use herbal supplements to help lose weight?
The short answer is no, they are not recommended. There are a variety of cleanses on the market – juices, smoothies, etc. A cleanse may cause you to lose weight due to the low calories that many of them have, and decreasing calories will most likely lead to weight loss. However, cleanses may be too low in calories and risk impacting milk production. And, if you’re clearing toxins out of your body, there’s no guarantee that some of those toxins won’t end up in your milk. While it varies from woman to woman, most lactating moms should not allow their calorie intake to go below 1800 calories per day. Also, some products that contain herbal supplements such as appetite suppressants are definitely something to avoid while breastfeeding.
How much exercise is ok while breastfeeding?
Exercise as much as you are able to! If you haven’t been active in a while, you will want to start out slowly and avoid overdoing it. If you can, incorporate baby into the exercise. Take baby out for a walk in a stroller or babywear – add in some lunges and squats while you are walking! The fresh air will be great for him or her too! An exercise video at home while baby naps is another way to get some exercise. Try Betty Rocker’s 30 day challenge for FREE! 15 minute work-outs that can be done in your home. My understanding is that they are intense though, so maybe work up to Betty Rocker!
If you would like a more formal setting such as a gym or exercise class, you can do that too! And, some places even offer childcare!
A few tips to keep in mind when exercising:
1. A well-fitting sports bra is a must
2. Feed or pump prior to exercising to avoid becoming engorged during a work-out (though you know your body and baby the best and this may not be necessary)
3. Baby may not like the salty taste of sweat post-workout, so you may need to wipe off excess sweat prior to feeding baby after a workout.
And here’s a few best practices to keep in mind before starting to lose weight:
The bottom line is a moderate reduction in calories and incorporating exercise into your day are both healthy ways to lose weight without affecting your milk supply.
I often hear moms in the hospital ask, "Besides alcohol, are there other foods (or drinks) I should not have while breastfeeding?". And my reply is always the same: you CAN have alcohol while you're breastfeeding.
Now I am not saying go out with reckless abandon, but I want moms and families to realize that breastfeeding is not intended to be restrictive. There are those alcohol test strips sold in stores which, in my personal opinion, are unnecessary. Go by how you feel. If you feel that you can safely drive a car, or hold your baby, it's fine to breastfeed your baby. Jack Newman posted on Facebook a couple of years ago a study done by a mom in a toxicology lab who tested alcohol levels in her milk. The post is below and I feel it does more justice to the topic than I could:
December 21, 2014 · Reposting on alcohol and breastfeeding. Happy holidays all.
Since the holidays are imminent, even started, many of you may want to have a couple of alcoholic drinks. You do not have to "pump and dump" (a terrible expression) afterwards and you don't have to wait a certain time after your more recent drink in order to restart breastfeeding. The amount of alcohol that gets into the milk is tiny and will not hurt the baby.
Think of it this way, in most jurisdictions, you are too impaired to drive if you have 0.05% alcohol in your blood. Alcohol appears in the milk in the same concentration as in the blood. Thus if you have 0.05% alcohol in your blood you will have 0.05% alcohol in your milk and as it decreases in your blood, it will decrease in your milk. Even de-alcoholized beer sold in my local store has 0.6% alcohol, more than 10x more than the breastmilk will contain if it contains 0.05% alcohol.
I am not saying it's fine to get falling down drunk because if you are breastfeeding, you must not drop the baby, but the problem is your coordination not the amount of alcohol in the milk.
Also from last year:
The following is from a blog by a mother who tested her milk for alcohol. Not one of those useless kits that you can buy at various stores, but tested at a toxicology laboratory. I will copy from her blog the method she used and the results. I think this puts the lie to the notion that women should not drink while breastfeeding or need to "pump and dump" (an appalling term) after having even one drink. The following is an exact quote from her blog:
First I took a sample of my milk (about 1 mL) prior to drinking any alcoholic beverage. I expressed the milk mid-nursing session to ensure I had a goodly portion of fore & hind milk. After completing the nursing session, I mixed myself an alcoholic beverage consisting of 2 oz of 80 proof (40%) vodka in 10 oz of soda (Sprite). I proceeded to drink the entire 12 oz in about 30 minutes. About 30 minutes after finishing (1 hour after beginning to drink), I expressed some milk (about 1 mL) and labeled it 'immediate'. I then waited 1 hour and expressed more milk (about 1 mL) and labeled it '2 hours'. In the 2 hours (from the beginning), I did not drink any more alcoholic beverages, drink other beverages, or eat any other foods. Another day, 1/2 of a beer (4.3% alcohol) and 2-6 oz glasses of wine were consumed within 1.5 hours. About an hour from the beginning of the last drink, a milk sample (about 1 mL) was taken. This sample was labeled '1 hour - 3 drinks'. Another sample was taken about an hour after that (2 hours after the beginning of the last drink). This sample was labeled '2 hours - 3 drinks'.
The samples were stored in the refrigerator until processing. An Agilent headspace instrument was used to run the tests. Propanol and ethanol standards were also tested to ensure the instrument was within limits. The instrument is maintained by the KSP Lab Toxicology Section and used in forensic determinations of blood and urine alcohol content.
The sample labeled as 'immediate' registered as 0.1370 mg/mL which correlates to 0.01370% alcohol in the sample. The sample labeled '2 hours' registered as 0.0000 mg/ml which correlates to 0.0000%. The sample labeled '1 hour - 3 drinks' registered as 0.3749 mg/mL which correlates to 0.03749% alcohol in the sample. The sample labeled '2 hours - 3 drinks' registered as 0.0629 mg/mL which correlates to 0.00629% alcohol in the sample.
The alcohol content in breast milk immediately after drinking is equivalent to a 0.0274 proof beverage. That's like mixing 1 oz of 80 proof vodka (one shot) with 2919 oz of mixer . By the way, 2919 oz is over 70 liters. Two hours after drinking one (strong) drink the alcohol has disappeared from the sample. Completely harmless to the nursing infant. Drinking about 3 drinks in 1.5 hours resulted in higher numbers, but still negligible amounts of alcohol would be transferred to the child. One hour after imbibing in 3 drinks, the milk was the equivalent of 0.07498 proof beverage. That would be like adding 1 oz of 80 proof vodka (one shot) to 1066 oz of mixer (1066 oz is over 26 liters). Two hours after imbibing in 3 drinks, the milk was 0.01258 proof. That would be like adding 1 oz of 80 proof vodka to 3179 oz of mixer (over almost 80 liters). So, even though an infant has much less body weight, any of these percentage of alcohol in breast milk is unlikely to adversely affect the baby.
However, all that said, if you aren't sure how you may react to alcohol (especially if it's been 9+ months since your last drink), it may be best to have a little milk stored in the refrigerator or freezer should you not feel comfortable breastfeeding. If you decide to use your expressed milk to feed baby, just be sure you pump/express so your body doesn't think you missed a feeding.
And, please be sure you're not under the influence of alcohol if you bedshare.
Yes, it's a thing. The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year with moms feeling pulled in many, many different directions - cooking, planning, buying gifts, traveling, coordinating - and that's in addition to the usual daily tasks of childcare, meal-planning, cleaning, and general household upkeep.
Needless to say, moms can feel overwhelmed during the holidays. It's easy to try to hold baby off from feeding so you can finish your holiday baking or hand baby off to a visiting relative so he or she can enjoy some baby snuggles (because really - who turns down baby snuggles??). Or maybe Aunt Josie offers to give baby a bottle so you can get some rest or clean the house. Perhaps there's a holiday party you want to go to. All of these activities, while they seem harmless, if done repeatedly may inadvertently send baby a message that he's being put off or getting his meals from another source. Baby may start to seem less interested in breastfeeding or possibly even go on a nursing strike. Moms may interpret the lack of interest in breastfeeding as baby starting to wean, but that's most likely not the case. It's important to keep breastfeeding up during the busy holidays and maintain that bond with your baby.
In addition to making sure baby's needs are met, continuing to feed frequently will help ensure that moms don't get plugged ducts or mastitis (both of these are especially common in the busy holiday season!).
Here are 5 tips to help prevent accidental holiday weaning:
Just Carrie wanting a space to write about being a mom to 2, boob nerd, military wife, and food enthusiast. But mainly a place to talk about boobs and babies!