Sunday, February 19, 2012

Update on me...

It's been awhile - quite a long while - since I posted an update.  Here it is - I finished pumping for my youngest (and last!) child a year ago, just after her first birthday.  I finished nursing her altogether a few weeks ago, after her second birthday.  That makes 3 full years of pumping, and just over 5 years of nursing total for my three kiddos combined.  Whew - where's my medal?  Oh, right...

As for the blog, and all my pumping experience:  The blog will stay up in its current form, at least for now.  I'm slowly working on putting together a short book, in electronic form, based on the information contained here.  Hopefully I can get it out there to help more busy working moms get the information they need to meet their breastfeeding & pumping goals.  In the meantime, if there's ever a question, please feel free to post.  Although I don't post updates, I'm always available to offer advice and support to moms.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Transitions...breaking the bottle habit.

Once your baby reaches their first birthday, they are mature enough physically to drink whole cow's milk.  This does not mean that you have to wean completely - only that you now have more options for your growing toddler.  But how to make the switch from bottles to cups, mommy milk to cow's milk?  There are a million ways to work this one, but this is how we've done it with each child.

6-8 Months: Introduce organic yogurt
Whaaaat?  Yogurt?  Yes, you read that right.  Organic whole milk yogurt is a safe and very healthy food for your growing baby.  High in nutrients, essential fats, and beneficial bacteria, this is a great habit to get your baby started with early in life.  We love Yo-Baby brand, but any will do.  What does yogurt have to do with weaning from bottles?  Not a whole lot, except that personally it lets me know that my baby will most likely not have major problems (allergy or taste) with switching to whole milk several months down the road.

9-10 months: Introduce a Cup
Some time around the 9 month mark, I start giving my babies a sippy cup full of water to play with at mealtimes. You could try earlier, but my children never seemed to have much success before the 9 month mark.  I choose water because it's a better habit to establish than juice, and because it's easier to clean up the dribbles.  I fill the cup up, because it usually takes quite a while for them to learn to tip the cup high enough to get at liquid all the way on the bottom.  You can choose what ever type of cup you like - every child is different and will have one particular type that works better than others.  With 3 young kids in the house, I've learned that simpler is better - fewer pieces to lose!  Also, I personally detest straw cups, as they are next to impossible to clean. 

This should be a low stress endeavor - it's up to baby to figure it out on their own, and messes are no big deal.

11.5 - 12 Months: Introduce Cow's Milk
A week or so before baby's birthday, I start offering small amounts (1-2oz) of whole milk in a cup for them to get used to the taste.  I gradually offer a bit more each day (I typically start this on a weekend when I'm home to supervise and monitor for reactions), and slow decrease the amount of expressed breastmilk until the switch is complete!

Additional thoughts:
  • 12 months is considered the ideal time to wean baby from a bottle to a cup.  Because of that, I avoid ever putting whole milk in bottles - it seems like the easiest way to make a clean and painless break from the bottle.
  • Whole milk is a must for children until at least their second birthdays - not 2%, 1%, or skim. Young toddlers are still undergoing rapid brain growth and development, and the extra fats in milk are an essential source of the necessary materials for that busy brain.  Concerned about obesity in your family or child?  Teach your child healthy dietary habits - fruits, veggies, whole grains, and see that they get plenty of exercise!  Those habits are far more important than a few extra calories from whole milk.
  • Consider buying organic whole milk.  Yes, it's very expensive.  As for me, we generally don't buy organic foods, but I do buy organic milk for my kids between the ages of 12-24 months.  Milk is often listed high on the 'dirty dozen', foods that contain high levels of hormones and pesticides.  The higher the the fat content, the greater the amount of these substances that can be found in the milk.  Why not do everything you can to protect your tiny tot for at least another year?

Friday, November 5, 2010

When pumping ends...or There's a light at the end of this tunnel!

Now that my youngest is 10 months old, I've allowed myself to start looking forward to the end of pumping.  I support pumping moms 1000% (since I am one), I'm in favor of laws to protect a woman's ability to provide milk for her baby, I think it's wonderful that we have this ability to feed our babies their ideal food when we have to work away from home...but let's face it - pumping can be a pain, and I'm so glad that it's coming to an end.  To me, finishing my pumping journey will mean:

The end of lugging around an extra bag.

The end of washing bottles and pump parts every night after the kids go to bed.

The end of worrying about supply.

The end of obsession over whether daycare is over-feeding baby.

The end of being chained to my pump at lunch/during breaks/etc.

The end of worrying about coworkers barging in on me half-exposed.

And best of all....

The return of just a small measure of free time in my day!  Yay!

But how does this transition from pumping mom to pumping graduate happen?  What needs to be done?  How do you prepare baby? Does this mean you'll have to stop nursing altogether?  I'll address these and other questions over the next few posts.  Today's topic - how do I wean myself from daily pumping?

Friday, September 24, 2010

I'm still here...

I'm busy.  Really, really busy.  I very much want to add some new posts, and I'm going to try to pick back up soon and keep posting something new every week or so very soon. However, it's the beginning of the semester and I'm teaching 32 hours a week (plus another 6-8 or so in prep each week), so the kids are obviously my priority at this moment for my spare time.

However, please, please do keep asking any questions you may have - and let me know if there's any topics you'd like to see covered in detail.  I absolutely have time to help another mom in need - I love it, in fact!

As for me, baby #3 is now 8 months old, and I'm still pumping away.  With the news of the recent Similac recall, I'm even more glad that I've stuck it out with all of my babies.  I started taking Fenugreek recently to boost my supply a bit, and I'm happy with the results (2 - 610mg pills, 3x a day).  I'm seeing an increase of about 2-4oz total over my 3 pumps, which is exactly what I needed to keep my little Miss satisfied.  She's also eating baby foods - fruits, veggies, cereal, as well as soft finger foods.  It's a wonderful time - such fun age.

So needless to say, I haven't forgotten about my fellow pumping sisters-in-arms.  Just keeping up with our crazy life, day by day.  Happy pumping!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Handling and Storing Human Milk

Human milk needs to be handled differently than either formula or cow's milk from the store. The table shown below (thanks to gives the standard guidelines for how long milk is viable at various temperatures:

Human Milk Storage - Quick Reference Guide*

Room Temperatures
Warm room (79°F) 4-6 hours
Normal room temp (66-72°F) 10 hours
Insulated Cooler with ice pack (50-60°F) 24 hours
Refrigerator Storage**  
Freshly pumped 8 days
Thawed from frozen 24 hours
Freezer (never refreeze!)**  
Typical freezer (30°F) 3-6 months
Deep freezer (0°F) 6-12 months
Temperature Storage Time

*These guidelines are intended only for a healthy, full term baby! 
**For best results, store milk in the back of the refrigerator or freezer, away from the door. 

How do I know my milk is still good?
This one is simple,  the same way you know that cow's milk is still good, by smell!  Breastmilk that is too old or 'bad' will have a strong sour/spoiled smell and should be thrown away.  If it smells fine, it's safe to use.


Help Dr. Hale!

Dr. Hale, the world's expert on medications and breastfeeding, is trying to gain essential funding for his InfantRisk center - basically a call center - that any mother or pregnant woman can call and find out accurate, research based information regarding the safety of medications during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Go vote and support the cause!


Help Hale's InfantRisk Center get funding! Vote every day through August 31st. Their current rank is 75th-- the top two get $250k in funding. Let's get them to the top! For more info on the InfantRisk Center (which is open and receiving calls), visit their website at

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What is normal, anyway?

In my experience, a lot of moms give up pumping (and breastfeeding in general) because of what they perceive to be problems with their baby or their nursing relationship.  Too often I hear things like "baby wanted to eat every 2 hours" or " she seemed starving every night", with the unspoken implication being "I wasn't making enough milk, so I had to switch to formula".  Every time I hear a woman say something like this, usually with sadness or shame, I get angry.  Really angry.  Angry, not at the mother who has only done what she believes is best for her baby, but angry that our society is so formula-centered that we generally have no idea of what is normal behavior for a breastfed baby (aka. a human baby), and no understanding of what to expect in a baby who is fed mom's expressed milk while she's away. Angry, because it's too late for that nursing pair.  And angry, because there is one more woman who has internalized the message that it's not possible to exclusively breastfeed while working outside of the home.

To this end, I've started compiling a list of normal, even expected behaviors for breastfed babies of working mothers.  Please note, some of these are common to all breastfed babies, whether mom SAH or WOH.

Breastfed babies will:
  • Want to eat at least every two hours while they are awake, usually until past their first birthday.
    Breastmilk digests quickly and easily - usually in about 90 minutes.  Empty tummies = hungry babies.  This is not an indication that he isn't getting enough - it's an indication that his system is functioning properly!  Frequent nursing also helps maintain and stimulate mom's milk supply - it's a symbiotic relationship.
  • Often want to feed constantly in the evenings, especially on weekdays (workdays).
    This is a phenomenon known as cluster-feeding, and is thought to be a result of two factors.  Psycologically, baby has been separated from mom all day long, is tired, and wants nothing more than to be comforted in his mother's arms.  Physiologically, breasts have their slowest production in the late afternoon/evening hours - but - the milk that is produced tends to be higher in fat.  Frequent feeding during this time allows baby to get as much of this higher fat milk as possible before bedtime - which may help baby to sleep for a longer initial stretch each night. 
  • Not sleep through the night consistently, for at least the first year.
    It's hard to be a working mom with an infant who still wakes frequently - believe me, I know!  However, fast digesting milk can leave a baby hungry well before morning.  It is unreasonable to expect a breastfed baby to sleep through the night much before their first birthday.  To maximize your rest, consider potential options such as co-sleeping (full or part time) or having baby sleep in your room in a bassinet, side-car style crib or other safe place.  After their first birthday, if night waking is still very frequent, consider some gentle nightweaning techniques.
  • Be able to drink several ounces of formula (or other liquid), after nursing.
    Drinking from a bottle is much easier than nursing from the breast, and it's very easy to over-feed a baby via bottle.  Think about it - is it possible for you to eat more after a satisfying meal?  Sure, that's pretty much the definition of Thanksgiving, right?  That doesn't mean you're not getting enough at your regular meals - and the same runs true for infants.  The point is to satisfy their needs, not to fill them up as much as possible!
  • Grow quickly their first 2 months, and then often more slowly then their formula fed peers from months 2-12.
    Breastmilk is relatively higher in fats and lower in protein relative to cow's milk (the basis for most formulas).  All that fat makes it great at growing babies with big brains but slower at growing big bodies.  Baby cows, in contrast, need big bodies fast and small heads, which is why cow's milk has lots of protein and less fat. So, which are you growing, a human or a cow?
  • Want to be held by mom more often.
    Don't we all? Everything about mom is love - really, why shouldn't baby want to be held often?  The difference is that it is easier for formula fed babies to be fed by others, or feed themselves, or have their bottles propped up for them, and that's how many learn to comfort themselves.  Personally, I'd rather have my baby want to be comforted by a person than an object, wouldn't you?

If I'm missed anything obvious, please let me know and I'll add it.  Also, a final note. Many parents (and especially grandparents) will see this list as a reason that formula feeding is more convenient or even better for baby.  This is a hangover from the Victorian perspective that saw babies and children as an inconvenience - not small people with their own needs.  In the millions of years of human evolution, babies have always been breastfed frequently, slept next to their parents, and been held much of the time by loving family or friends.  It's how we ensured the safety and survival of our very helpless infants in a dangerous world. While these things might not fit well into your busy life of 2010, 150 years of artificial feeding and modern parenting techniques cannot erase eons of biological heritage.  In short, babies are not meant to be convenient!
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