Saturday, May 22, 2010

Lemonade Boobies

A reader sent me a photo that actually left me speechless. Momentarily anyway. I showed The Piano Man the image and waited for his reaction. He had plenty to say. After he expressed his thoughts I finally found mine and we ranted together. I appreciated his insight and asked him to write it down to share here. So I'm honored to share the first of what I hope are many more posts by The Piano Man.

Today Jessica showed me this:

"Lady selling lemonade on the beach (reportedly clearing $250 per day)... The psychology of business is to "know what your customers want!" This guy probably does not know what he is drinking, nor does he care... because he is after something more than sugared down lemon juice. Reportedly for $10 a try, you will see when you finish sucking. So who says making money is tough? The jobs are out there!!!"

(Jessica here: Don't you just love the expression on her face? I mean, seriously, what is that?)

A woman on the beach with large manufactured lemonade-filled breasts covering her own, from which, for $10, one can find refreshment and get in touch with their baby-side.

That’s right, customers (?!) pay a lady to suck on her fake boobs - for lemonade? The short description of the picture also alluded to what said customers may catch a glimpse of once they’ve had their fill, if you catch my drift.

(Jessica again: OMG, you mean, they might see some B@@B! A NIPPLE! Oh pretty lady what else can we do to sneak a peak? Roll over? Play dead? Don't even get me started on what this reduces men to.)

Um, really? My reaction to the photograph was a mix of shock, disbelief and disgust, as well as, I must admit, a smidge of amusement for just how ridiculous this whole scene is. Let’s see if I can unravel and label my emotional response.

(Jessica's emotional response: ewwwwwwwwww! ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ewwwwwww!)

What would possess a grown man to publicly perform such an act with a perfect stranger? An act that is as confusing as it is absurd. To me, a man’s face interacting with a woman’s chest is a sexual thing; the kind of sexual thing that you do in private. I could perhaps see how the shock value of appearing to be performing such an act in public might be enticing for someone, purely for entertainment. But with a stranger? Maybe I’m just too old-fashioned. I’d personally be embarrassed to pretend to suck on a stranger’s breasts; and I find it extremely disrespectful to the woman, even if she is offering it as a service.

(Jessica: No sweetie, you're really not old fashioned. You respect yourself and me. That and you don't have to resort to such measures, obviously.)

Which makes me wonder: is it really OK for individuals to go offering pseudo-sexual acts for money? How about participating in a pseudo-sexual act in public? I realize that in this situation people aren’t actually sucking on this woman’s breasts, but they are sucking on fake boobs positioned in the same place as her breasts, and these fake boobs happen to be see-through; you can clearly see the lemonade in them (and maybe more...). Still, you’re paying to suck on a strangers boobs in public, fake or not. To me, this is the same thing as wearing see-through swimsuits, or clothes that have naked people printed on them. Public nudity laws? Oh, you’re not really parading around naked, right? I’m not personally comfortable walking ON that right/wrong line.

(Jessica here again: I don't have a problem with airbrushed t-shirts with naked people on them. I mean, I wouldn't wear one but w/e.)

I mentioned how confusing this thing is. On the one hand, this act can be perceived as pseudo-sexual, but when I focus on the fake breast containing a drink that someone accesses by sucking on its fake nipple, all sexual connotation disappears for me, and it becomes a nurturing act, the kind that takes place between a mother and her baby when breastfeeding. A beautiful, natural act, that my wife has shared with our babies 5 times over, in public and in private, in truth, wherever the need arises. A life-giving act. And non-sexual; because it’s not a sexual act to breastfeed your baby but rather a nurturing, mothering oen. Babies have no other natural alternative than to get their nutrition from a breast. Sure, there’s formula, now. But I’d hardly call it natural. Accepted in our culture? No doubt. But natural? The way nature, or God, intended? I don’t think so. So, back to our amusing/disturbing picture. These breasts, fake though they obviously are, have liquid in them, liquid that is intended to be ingested, through the means of a nipple to which you apply suction with your mouth. To me, it’s a nursing act, and I have long outgrown my nursing days. I am a man now. Actually, my nursing days were over even way before I became a man. I know there is conversation regarding how long a child can or should nurse. For me the limit is 2 or 3 years of age, but I regard this as a personal decision that parents make for themselves, and I’m OK with that. Even for the extreme breastfeeders, there is a limit, a ceiling that is reached, where a child decides they are through with that phase in their life. Whether it happens at 3 or 10 is irrelevant in this discussion. The point is it happens, somewhere, we’ll say, in the first 10 years of a person’s life? Therefore, to me, this picture evokes an act that any well-adjusted adult has long outgrown and has now become unnatural to them. For me, it feels wrong, I experience a physical revulsion to the thought of an adult performing the act in a baby’s stead.

(Jessica's thoughts- again: I don't care what grown-ups do in private. That's their business. However, I never appreciate a grown-up acting like a child in any public setting. Temper tantrums? No. Whining? I don't think so. Picking their nose? Oh heck no.)

Then I started wondering what kind of people both the customer and the, uh, merchant (?) are. Does the man in the picture really not see the merchant as a woman? Is she just a set of boobs? A novelty item for his enjoyment? For the amusement of others? I don’t believe for a second that what’s on his mind is quenching his thirst. Is this not a blatant example of the objectification of women in our society? Does the customer have no respect for her, or for himself for that matter? If he’s willing to pretend to perform an (infantile) pseudo-sexual act with a complete stranger, in public, what else is he capable of? What will he do next? And what about her, the woman with the goods? How degrading for her to let who-knows-how-many strangers a day mess around with her fake breasts for money. What’s her story? Where is her self-respect? Does she see herself as an object for men's pleasure and entertainment? Is that where she finds her worth? I assume that she’s bought into our culture’s view of women, and she’s just trying to capitalize on it a little bit. I also assume that she is a victim of our culture’s view of women, and she has had degrading and hurtful experiences used to teach her about them. I feel sorry for her, and wish that she weren’t demeaned to the point of resorting to this.

(Jessica: Preach it babe.)

In a country that broadcasts all-too-frequent news reports on alleged disturbing acts of breastfeeding between mothers and their own babies in public, this is OK? This is acceptable? Even if this isn't acceptable to many why isn't this all over the news as inappropriate behavior in public when recently we have report after report of the scandalous activities of mothers simply caring for their children by nurturing and nourishing them with her breasts. Well, this, with its mixed message of sexual-public-nursing-naked-for-fun with objectification-and-paying-for-sex overtones, should certainly help clear up any misconceptions regarding the place of breasts and breastfeeding in our society. Because somehow we can post this on the internet and laugh from our jr. high dirty humor selves but a mother feeding her child naturally is considered so inappropriate FaceBook regularly deletes any images depicting a breastfeeding child, a Tampa school board sides with a principle that removes a breastfeeding woman from a public lobby and the obnoxious, in-your-face talk show The View refuses to show breastfeeding images on their show and dis on women that nurse in public. What is wrong with this picture?

Oh, and, in spite of the vaguely amusing and disturbing first glance of the above image, I find it mostly disgusting.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Jenna, Gianna and Athena- Breastfeeding after Breast Reduction Surgery

We're happy to share a guest post by our friend Jenna and her breastfeeding experience. Heather has breastfed two little girls so far and has overcome some serious obstacles to do so. A story of love, determination and commitment, Jenna share the heartache, joys and triumphs she has experienced in her breastfeeding journey. We appreciate Jenna's voice and her sharing her story with us. We hope you enjoy and are as inspired as we are by her story.

The only thoughts going through my head the day my surgeon set the date for my breast reduction was how the pain in my lower back and shoulders would finally go away and my self esteem would return. Living with a tiny body and DD breasts was not easy. Little did I know that by signing on the dotted line, I was also signing up for a world of heartache many years later.

I fell pregnant with my first daughter in August 2006. In the first seven or eight months I carried her, I honestly didn’t give nursing much of a thought. I’d considered it. But my husband and I had stocked up on freebie Enfamil samples and bottles. I bought and skimmed Diane West’s book on everything I needed to know about breastfeeding after reduction surgery and it was all so overwhelming. I joined an online forum,, in hopes that these wonderful women could translate all the lingo.

As I approached my due date, something started to change. I started to feel myself veering onto the unpaved path, away from the mainstream. I signed up for a midwifery-led birth, I started reading more and more about breastfeeding and even attended a few Le Leche League meetings in hopes of meeting someone like me.

Gianna was born on April 25th, 2007 via c-section and when I met her for the first time back in my room, something just clicked. I was this child’s source of nutrition and protection always. I nursed her then for the first time. She latched like a champ and the lactation consultants were impressed. But it wasn’t always bliss.

The first several weeks were torture. I’m not talking about the raw, cracked and bleeding nipples torture. I’m talking about the little to no weight gain torture, the fussy baby at the breast torture, the feeling of not making enough for your baby torture. I gave Gianna a bottle of formula for the first time after nursing her at around 3 weeks old. She hadn’t gained back enough to reach her birth weight and although the pediatrician and lactation consultant insisted I was doing all I could and urged me to not begin supplementing just yet, I followed my mama instinct. She gulped that bottle down and wailed for more. I think she took four ounces that night and I’ve never cried so hard in my entire life.

I refused to be a formula feeding mother so I started taking BFAR’ing a little more seriously. I researched galactagogues, I started pumping after every feeding and I ordered Medela’s Supplementary Nursing System (SNS). I loaded up on fenugreek, blessed thistle, domperidone, goat’s rue and tinctures and teas and oatmeals. I’d been a member of a due date forum on a “mommy board” of sorts and one of the women there offered to ship me her pumped breast milk. She remained Gianna’s donor for months until she returned to work and needed to pump exclusively for her son. Gianna had two more donors after that but we also had to use formula. I hated it but at the end of the day my daughter was breastfeeding and was getting well over 60 percent of her supply from me.

The SNS does not allow a mother to be discreet so nursing in public became my norm. If I wanted to go out then I was certainly going to have feed my child. It sucked having to experience the inconvenience of lugging around bottles of milk (to be dumped into the SNS when time) and a cooling bag and everything a formula feeding mother needs but I felt proud that I was doing what a lot of women in my position say they’d never do.

The camaraderie I found on the forum was the only thing that kept me positive a lot of the time. My family and even my husband urged me to give up the stress and bottle feed my daughter. But if anyone truly knows me, they know I don’t go down without a fight and this was my fight to win.

Soon both my daughter and I got the hang of the SNS. Months went by and there was never a glitch in the program. It was our new normal and we were okay with it.
Gianna nursed with the SNS until she was 15 months old. I weaned off the herbal supplements and medication I was on and then I weaned her from the SNS. She continued to nurse on whatever I made alone until she was 26 months old.

I gave birth to my second daughter three weeks ago. I established a committed, full time donor months ago and have a breast milk stash anyone would be envious of in my deep freezer. I started the domperidone and herbal supplements the day she was born. Athena is a happily breastfeeding baby. Together with the help of her milky mama, she will be fully breastfed for as long as her little heart desires.

Holy Crap.

My first daughter, Earth Baby was a pretty good breastfeeding baby. We didn’t have latch problems really, though it did hurt some in the first two weeks, she gained weight well, she had an internal clock that said to eat every 2 hours the first week and then it self regulated nicely to a 3-4 hour schedule and within a few weeks she was sleeping a 6 hour stretch at night. I had it made. Thought I was all that too. My baby was perfect. In the hospital, before coming home, she transitioned from the new baby tar butt that was the result of meconium to yellowish, seedy smears in her diaper. A nurse explained how many she should produce a day and we were on our way. There were the appropriate amount of those smeared diapers every day and things were just farting along nicely. When Earth Baby was around one week old we experienced our first, um, taste, of her potential. It turned out, those smears were just the warm up. Her A game was far more impressive. And not cute.

But it was hilarious.

The Piano Man was the honored one. He was changing her on our sweet little changing table with a chux pad the hospital sent home with us down for protection. We’d been using the same chux pad since we got home and weren’t sure why they told us they were great to have around for changes. Still so new to this baby thing, I took pictures constantly and that was even back in the day of *gasp* film! Yeah, I was taking pictures of him changing her diaper. Really more because he was so cute handling this little person, I just couldn’t help taking pictures. I only wish it had been a video camera.

Having already established his method of changing her, The Piano Man talked to her sweetly as he unsnapped the bottom of her jammies and pulled them up around her waist. Grabbing a wipe, he unfastened her wet diaper and laid the wipe over her girly parts to avoid a bubbling fountain of pee since she often went once air was permitted to her nether regions. He grabbed another wipe and, still talking to her, proceeded to lift her legs to wipe her down.

It was like a pulling a lever to release a bomb. A poop bomb. He pulled those legs up and off went the missile. Not a slow release, no. A fast burst of hot, yellow, thick liquid poop squirted out. This wasn’t a smear but rather like someone had thrown a gallon of paint. It hit the wall, the edge of the changing table, The Piano Man (pretty amazing since he was to the side and not in the direct line of fire) and even a little got on the chux pad. Like, maybe a smear.

And then Earth Baby heard her first swear word. You think you’re never going to swear in front of your kids. But then, you also never think your precious infant is going to launch weapons of mass destruction from their behind in toxic hues of glowing yellow.

I laughed.

I laughed and laughed and laughed. I didn’t help clean up. I laughed, snorting and hiccuping until tears ran down my face. And I took pictures. Sadly I can’t find them but I will because this photographic evidence is priceless. Plus, Earth Baby is now 11, I’m sure she’d love to see pictures of her poop. What adolescent wouldn't?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sweet Sunday Slurp- Treasured Memories

Today's Sunday Slurp is by Jennifer, a mom of 3 girls. Jennifer blogs at Uncommonly Common Thoughts about life as a military wife and mom of her 3 spirited daughters. She shares with us here about the sweetness of treasured memories now that her breastfeeding days are done. Enjoy!

One of my favorite memories of nursing my 3 children...was when I had my youngest. Knowing she was my last I tried to savor every quiet nursing moment with her. (Hard to do with 2 other young kids running!) To slow down, calm down and rather than worrying about what needed to get done next, to instead focus all my attention on my little nursling. I loved looking into her eyes & just staring into them as she ate, and having her little fist wrapped around my finger. Smothering that little hand with kisses to the background noise of her making her soft gulping noises. The "baby smell" of her...the "milk drunk" look when she was done. Treasured memories. :)

If you are interested in making a submission to be considered for Sweet Sunday Slurp, please leave a comment here or on our Facebook fan page. We're looking for short, sweet nursing stories every week.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

House Dad on Breastfeeding

My friend Jerry agreed to answer some questions on breastfeeding from a husband/dad's perspective. Jerry and I grew up together and now he's a stay-at-home-dad of 2 little girls. He shares about that journey at House Dad.

TLB: How did breastfeeding come up?
House Dad: I’m not to sure how breastfeeding first came up. I just asked my wife and she said, “You had nothing to do with it… It wasn’t your decision.”

Even though she is correct I never had objections to it. Not sure if my objections would have been any good anyways. I remember her reading up on it and how I heard the benefits from our doctors and other people. It’s also something that both of us were use to from our family members. So it was kind of like an unconscious victim, applied consent.

TLB: What was your initial reaction?
House Dad: There was never any reaction. It’s such an obvious choice. If my wife was going to go run an errand and she told me she was going to put her seat belt on in the car, my reaction would be, “You are telling me this why?” So there was never a moment where she stated, “I’m going to breastfeed!”

TLB: Did it seem strange or normal?
House Dad: To not breastfeed is like going to the grocery store to buy oranges when you have an orange tree in your backyard. It was definitely normal. It really seems like the idea of not breastfeeding is strange. If your body is producing the nutrients for your child, why would you not use what your body is giving?

TLB: Did you have any concerns?
House Dad: None. That is till the day Pence was born and she couldn’t latch. Eventually the doctor hooked us up with a system to train Pence and the boobs. For the first week or two we used formula with a CT tube while trying to breastfeed. So while Pence was trying to latch and Sarah was waiting for the “let down”, our child was getting formula from the small tube. Eventually everyone got the memo and were on the same page.

TLB: What do you like about breastfeeding?
House Dad: It’s bonding and a process that is so organic you can’t help but respect it.

TLB: What don't you like about breastfeeding?
House Dad: This one may get me in trouble. I think there is a certain class required for a woman to do this appropriately in public. Some people find it offensive, like some people find cussing offensive. I find neither of them offensive. When I am out in public around people I don’t know I choose my words out of respect for my surroundings. I believe breastfeeding should be the same. Not that it shouldn’t be done, but that it should be discreet. An example of what I mean is the “Life and Times of Tim” video I posted on the Leaky B@@b’s Facebook page. That is indiscreet.
Also there is an age cut off. There is a point and not sure if it’s an age, or how the child acts, when it needs to be stopped. Obviously an 8 year old is too old (You Tube it.)

TLB: Were you jealous?
House Dad: What kind of question is this? Like literally that I wasn’t able to feed from my man boobs? (Note to readers, I don’t have man boobs.) Definitely not. There were times when I’d look over and it’s that precious moment of my wife shaping one of the girls heads while feeding… and then suddenly milk comes spitting out the side of my daughter’s mouth down my wife’s torso and rest in her lap. Overall it seems like way too much work for me.

TLB: Were you able to bond with the baby?
House Dad: Obviously not as much. A husband can’t bond as much if the wife is breastfeeding. There is a connection between a woman and her child. However, I was able to feed her what Sarah would pump. It’s definitely peaceful because since they can’t really talk it’s your bonding time, and since there mouth is stuffed with rubber nipple you don’t hear any screaming. Which results in me loving my child more.

TLB: How did you support your wife breastfeeding?
House Dad: No objections. Refer to the first question. I think the best support I could do was with our first daughter when there was trouble feeding. I set up the formula tube operation each time since dealing with a baby, tube, tape and bottle was a little too much to handle all at once.

TLB: How did breastfeeding effect your sex life?
House Dad: Now instead of planning our rumpus around TV shows we had the new obstacle of over loaded leakiness.

TLB: Did breastfeeding ruin your wife's breasts?
House Dad: My wife says “yes.” That’s all I have to say about that.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Heather and Darin's Story

We're happy to share a guest post by our friend Heather and her breastfeeding experience. Heather has 3 children and 3 totally different breastfeeding experiences. She wanted to write to reinforce the last guest blogger. Today is the second and final segment of Heather's story.
Heather and her children today.

I was fortunate to have a super-healthy 2nd baby, and experienced 18 months of wonderful breastfeeding with him without complications.

My 3rd child, Darin, was born to me by adoption. He was a 33-week preemie who also has Down syndrome, and I really wanted him to have the benefits of breastfeeding. Unfortunately, I did not have a long time to study the inductive lactation protocol. By the grace of God, the time from when we entered the adoption process, to when Darin was in our home was 5 weeks.

But I still had to give it a shot. After such a successful experience of pumping, and breastfeeding, I was certain that my body could figure out how to feed Darin.

So, I found a friend who had ordered Domperidone from a Canadian pharmacy to help with her milk supply, and I started taking this medication that has a common-side effect of lactation, even in men! I started pumping every 2 hours.

And a little milk started appearing.


Like drops.

By the 4th week, a whole days pumping would yield 8 oz. And I had gained 8 lbs.
But the good thing was, Darin was a strong baby. While still in the NICU, he was drinking 4 oz bottles of formula. So, when I put him to the breast, he knew what to do. And even though he didn't get alot of nutrition from me, we did gain in our bonding from this.

I had to weigh the personal effect of gaining weight so rapidly (others reported 25 lbs of gain during the inductive protocol), against getting 1 bottle of milk per day. And the milk was very watery, thin, and white. Not what hearty breastmilk looks like.
So I gave up the idea of making the milk for Darin, and started working on the next-best thing:
Find donor milk!

I found a huge network of women in my area that were breastfeeding moms who pumped either for work, or just to have a stockpile, who would share with us.
Each week for about 2 months, I'd drive house to house to pick up 3, 10, 15 bottles of milk.
And then I hit the mother-load! There was a mom who had filled an entire deep-freezer, and her son never took a bottle! She donated the whole freezer to Darin. He ate off her for 1 whole month.

Darin today.

Fortunately, due to Darin's prematurity, Darin was eligible for pasturized donor milk through the Mother's Milk Bank in Austin. Insurance began to cover a weekly shipment of frozen donor milk to feed Darin from 4 months old until he was 1 year old. Such a gift.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sweet Sunday Slurp- Mother's Day flashback

Earth Baby, 11 and Smunchie, 5 weeks

Today's Sunday Slurp is by The Leaky B@@b's mom, Victoria. This is the first time I've heard this story and boy, does it explain a lot. I'm proud of my mom. Happy Mother's Day to all Leakies, past, present, future and Leaky at heart.

Mother’s Day……if you are a mother everyday is a mother’s day. A work day. Being as I didn’t have hired help as in housekeeping, cooking, shopping, you get the idea. I was all of those, as motherhood goes for most. One thing unique to being a mother, that a father can’t do, is breastfeed. So, I decided that breastfeeding was important and needed. My 2 child and my first daughter was born on April 8th, about a month before Mother’s Day. I was excited and ready to take her out with me to the Mother’s Day Brunch at church. Since this was her first outing I was delighted to be going out. Jessica, my daughter, woke up happy but ready to eat while we were still at the brunch. I started to feed her. Being as this was a women only event I didn’t think there would be a problem. Wrong, it was 1978. Some thought I should go to the restroom to feed her. The restroom is not a place to rest, it is a place for waste, it is a place to change diapers, not to feed anyone. I didn’t go and started nursing at the table. I did cover up to keep the peace and keep grandma happy. She didn’t nurse me or my brother and didn't understand. Before leaving the table to go home some of the woman started talking about nursing in public. I shared that this was as natural as life itself. It isn’t “dirty” or a sexual act, but it is bonding for the mother and child.

That Mother’s Day was special because I took my first born daughter to a brunch, shared the “freedom” of nursing, and started on the road to having a very free spirited child. Who grew up into a free spirited woman. She now has The Leaky B@@b and has breastfed all 5 of her own daughters.

In the evening, when it was just baby and me, I would occasionally have a small glass of wine while I nursed and take as much time as the baby would want to nurse. The comfort of a happy baby filled with mommy milk and that precious baby smile was the best Mother’s Day gift and I got to have that every day.

Mom of The Leaky B@@b

Smunchie breastfeeding, 3 months

If you are interested in making a submission to be considered for Sweet Sunday Slurp, please leave a comment here or on our Facebook fan page. We're looking for short, sweet nursing stories every week.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Heather and Arabella's story

We're happy to share a guest post by our friend Heather and her breastfeeding experience. Heather has 3 children and 3 totally different breastfeeding experiences. She wanted to write to reinforce the last guest blogger.

My first child was born on September 11, 2001. Upon meeting her, I was excited to figure out feeding her with my body. While we spent the next few hours together, I attempted to share small drops that were available from my breasts, and snuggle her, all while feeling modest and ackward holding this slippery little sweetie.

In my inexperienced opinion, I thought we were doing okay. While the breasts felt empty, I felt comfortable trusting the wise women around me, that she was getting the golden immunities she needed, while living off the reserve from her in utero feeding.

But on the first morning after she was born, our life got pretty crazy. Arabella had gone to the nursery for a genetics test - just a little blood draw to diagnosis what we all suspected - that Arabella had Down syndrome.

The nursery didn't seem to be bringing her back as fast as I thought they should, so I wandered down to check on her. I saw a busy nursery, with several extra nurses in different uniforms... and eventually, I figured out that they were surrounding my baby. I was told that she had started to look pale, and that her oxygen was low, so the Texas Children's Kangaroo Team was transporting her to TCH to check on her heart.

By the time I showered, and got someone to push me over to Texas Children's NICU, Arabella had an NG-tube from her nose to her tummy. They explained her breathing was too rapid for her to eat by mouth, and that IV and NG-tube feeding would be the route for several days.
And that's when I was sent to the Milk Bank, a place in the hospital where I learned to pump.
I tried pumping faithfully every 2 hours for the next 2 days, while wandering the NICU as a super-swollen, post-preeclampsic, confused-as-to-what-being-a-mom-looks-like-in-a hospital new mom.

Then my milk came in... I think it was day 4. OHHHHH, it came in. My breasts were suddenly (NO EXAGGERATION) the size of a cantelope... EACH. And hard as a rock.

And my pumping changed.

I would still enter the little room, hook up to the dual-pumping machine.

But NOTHING would come out.


And the pain was increasing.

I consulted with EVERYONE - the lactation consultants, my midwives, my mom, my friends - and nothing recommended worked. I even found an office in the hospital with a bathtub to soak in.

Then I found the problem.

Out of each of the tiny holes on the tip of my nipple (FYI, milk comes out of LOTS of holes, not just one), I pulled a string of white dried milk. So all the pumping was creating NO internal suction. It was just hitting a wall.

Once this obstacle was overcome, I settled into my pumping routine. For the 18 days Arabella was there, I spent my days trying to get her to eat out of the breast with a lactation consultation - then finding out that over 20 mins of trying would exhaust her heart and burn more calories than she gained; going to pump and banking the milk; then making sure that the milk that went down the NG tube & eventually a bottle was mine.

Arabella with her G-button.

Two nights during this visit, I slept through a feeding. My alarm clock next to the couch in the waiting room did not get me up for the 3am feeding. And when I rushed back to the NICU at 3:45, I found that the nurse was unable to locate my breastmilk and gave a feeding of formula.
Both of these nights, which were about 2 weeks apart, after having formula, Arabella's intestines would stop working. They thought it was a symptom of Hirschsprung's disease, semi-common in kids with Down syndrome. But each time, all problems disappeared after a day without the formula.

So, Arabella needed breastmilk.

No pressure.

As my days of mothering in the NICU were coming to a close, I was faced with a new expense - a hospital-grade breastpump was needed for home. Fortunately, my mom suggested calling WIC, a nutritional supplement program, and asking if they had pumps.

WIC's lactation consultant, Cathy Eng, drove the 30 miles to TCH to bring me my very own Ameda hospital-grade pump. She also promised to work with Arabella and I in our home to get that sweetie feeding from the breast. And she did. She came to my house as often as I asked, and we tried really hard for 6 months.

But the whole time, I was pumping every 2 hours. And I got pretty used to it. My body learned to let down in response to a machine, with a heart warmed by a baby. People who visited learned to step outside while I pump, cuz I wasn't relocating my whole set-up from my living room coffee table! And eventually, I learned to single-hand manual pump while driving!

Arabella's feeding is her own story. She ended up with failure-to-thrive when she was below-birth-weight at 3 months from feeding by mouth. She returned to the NG tube, then had a more-permanent G-button put in her stomach at 4 months. The acid-reflux from these intrusions caused her to have an oral-aversion, not wanting anything in her mouth from 4 months-6 months. But by 1 year old, she had her broken heart fixed, had overcome the oral-aversion, and was weaned off the G-button. She finished her first 8-oz bottle of milk by mouth about 2 weeks before she was 1 year old.

Arabella is 8 years old now. And she knows about breastfeeding. When she asks if she drank from my breasts, I am grateful that I can tell her that I loved her through the milk, even when we couldn't share the breast itself.

Arabella, age 8

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tips and Tricks for Exclusively Pumping Breastmilk

Gini and her daughter Claire.

We were happy to share a guest post by our friend Gini and her breastfeeding experience. Here are her tips and tricks for Exclusively Pumping breastmilk for your baby.

Tips and Tricks for EPing

1. Talk to a lactation consultant about supplements. I took 600mg of Fenugreek, three capsules- three times a day. It really boosted my milk supply, so much that when I was ready to stop pumping, I quit taking those and I experience very little discomfort weaning myself from the pump.

2. Find a comfortable place to pump. For me it was the bed. I would stack a ton of pillows between me and the headboard, watch tv, read my Bible, or just close my eyes. It was also nice that in the middle of the night I didn’t have to get up and go anywhere.

3. If you choose to EP, buy an extra set of pump parts. Pumping and washing seven times a day while caring for a newborn/ infant is hard enough. And use larger bottles rather than the 4-5 ounce ones that come with the pump.

4. You can store pump parts in the fridge between pumping sessions. When I learned this about three months into it, things became much easier. This was perfect for my middle of the night pumping. I would start with two clean sets of pump parts on my nightstand before I went to bed. I used the first at 1am, and when I was finished I put it in the fridge. I used the second set at 4am and put those in the fridge as well. Then, I would use the 1am pump parts (just clean breast shields) for the 9am pumping, and the 4am set from the noon pumping. This cut my washings down drastically.

Travelling with the Pump

1. Don’t be afraid to pack up the pump and take it with you places. When Claire was 8 weeks old, she and I flew to see my parents in New Orleans, and I successfully pumped in airport bathroom handicapped stall while feeding Claire, who was in her stroller. You can pump anywhere.

2. This brings me to… get a Hooter Hider, or an Udder Cover ( Whatever you want to call it, get one. It’s made for nursing mothers, but worked for me as well. I could pump in my car during the first few weeks back at work or in a room with my friends who aren’t quite close enough to see my ladies.

3. And pack lots of extra batteries in the pump. I could pump about two straight days worth on one set (of eight AA) batteries. Consider a car converter- one that allows you to plug in your A/C adapter in the car’s power outlet.

And pack the bag. They give you space there for a reason. Some of the things I kept in there were Lanolin wipes, Lanolin nipple cream, extra breast pads, spare white membranes (, spare breast milk storage bags, an old watch if you don’t wear one to keep up with your time, a little devotional book to help pass those fifteen minutes.

Milk Pumping Factory Part 2

We're happy to share a guest post by our friend Gini and her breastfeeding experience. The story of the breastfeeding journey she and her daughter went on will be shared here in parts. Today we conclude with part 2.

We brought the boobs full and the baby hungry and were primed for some breastfeeding lessons from a pro. Claire got naked and weighed, and then we nursed. Fifteen minutes on each side. Weighed again, and she pretty much shocked us all. She had only taken half an ounce in thirty minutes of nursing. At this rate, she would still not get enough if she was attached to the boob 24/7. I felt so deflated, like I wasn’t doing something right.

We tried again, this time with the lactation consultant all up in my business and touching my boobs more than my husband had in months. Claire started screaming. And I started crying. My mom sees me crying and she starts crying. I’m sure we were a sight to behold. Claire was starving and I felt like my boobs were going to literally explode in her face. To offer me some relief, the lactation consultant suggested I pump. Since I am notorious for forgetting things, I had never been so glad to have remembered a little black backpack in my life.

Mom and I had gone to Babies R Us when Claire was a few days old for a few minutes out of the house and to buy a pump. I knew that I would like to have the option of leaving Claire for a few hours or to have my husband feed her one middle-of-the-night when I couldn’t drag myself out from under the sheets. Armed with coupons (you can read more about my couponing tips and tricks here) we set out for what would be the single most used baby item in my house. Mom bought me the Medela Pump In Style Advanced Backpack (which is a double-electric) for a little more than $200.

And man, was it the best $200 bucks she’d ever spent! Not only did the pump give me relief in the lactation room, but it would go on to help me feed my baby for nearly six months. I told her that I wasn’t necessarily tied to the idea of feeding Claire from the breast- as long as she was fed- I was okay. So the decision was made, with great encouragement from the consultant and my mom… I would exclusively pump. She gave me loads of information on how to create and maintain a solid milk supply. Letting down with a pump is quite different than with a nursing infant, so I still had a lot to learn.

She put me on some supplements and a schedule. I was to pump 15 minutes every three hours during the day and every four hours at night, for a total of seven times in 24 hours. I was also to use the let-down button on the pump every five minutes so that I could have three separate let downs during each pumping session. I also was fitted for a correctly size breast shield and picked up another set of pump parts, both of which saved my life.

In the beginning, this is what my day looked like:

7am- Wake up, shower, eat breakfast

8am- Claire wakes up, feed/ change/ dress baby

9am- Pump, wash and make bottles for the day, clean pump parts from overnight (Claire is awake so she sits on the bed with me while I pump, and I wear her or she plays on the floor while I clean)

10am- Feed Claire

Noon- Claire is napping while I pump

1pm- Feed Claire, wash bottles and pump parts from morning (Luke is home for lunch so he plays with Claire while I make lunch, we both eat and I clean up)

3pm- Claire is napping while I pump

4pm- Feed Claire

5pm- Make Dinner

6pm- Pump, wash bottles and pump parts from the afternoon

7pm- Feed Claire, Eat Dinner

8pm- Bathe Claire, Put her to bed

9pm- Pump, wash parts so as to have two clean sets for overnight pumping, make night time bottles

10pm- Go to bed (or try to J)

Midnight- DH dreamfeeds Claire

1am- Pump

2am- Feed Claire

5am- Pump and Feed Claire

Start all over again at 7am

I’ll admit it was rough at first, but I got the hang of it. And my husband helped (as much as he could short of hooking himself up to the pump). In the beginning, I had trouble pumping an ounce per session, but when I began to wean four months later I was pumping nearly 10 ounces per session. And once your supply is established (around two months for me) you can eliminate one night time feeding (pump at 3am rather than 1am and 5am). And once your supply goes back up (like a week later) you can eliminate a day time pumping (1pm and 5pm rather than noon, 3pm and 6pm).

I pumped and I pumped for a little more than four months. I was able to feed my daughter and freeze over 1000 ounces of breast milk to take her almost to six months old. And I didn’t have any trouble weaning from the pump. I took the maximum dosage of Sudafed (and it’s safe to give your baby breast milk while taking this), got back on birth control (both of which will help dry of your milk) and cut one pumping session every three days.

Exclusively pumping (EPing) is an option. I am so glad someone gave me this option. It gave me a great sense of accomplishment that I was able to breastfeed my baby when nursing didn’t work for either of us. You need the support and understanding of family and friends. It is very difficult (or for me it was) to care for the baby while attached to a machine. EPing is an option that worked for me and my family. You have to do what works best for you and your family.

Luke and I do want to have more children (at least one, maybe two more). I think I will try to breastfeed, but first read and try to learn more about feeding from the breast. If it doesn't work, like it didn't for Claire, that's fine. Or if I find feeding from teh breast to be more convenient, that's fine too. It's comforting knowing that exclusively pumping will always be an option.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Milk Pumping Factory

We're happy to share a guest post by our friend Gini and her breastfeeding experience. The story of the breastfeeding journey she and her daughter went on will be shared here in parts. Today we bring you part 1.

Hi, my name is Gini! My husband, Luke, and I welcomed our beautiful baby Claire into our family on October 11, 2009. I also have a step-daughter, Bella who is six, and we live outside of Birmingham, Alabama. I only have a few dozen readers over at The McGlothin Family but I thought I had a pretty good story to share. I hope you’ll agree.

Let me first start by saying that I am not pro-breastfeeding. Nor am I pro-pumping. Nor am I pro-formula feeding. I am pro-baby feeding. I think people that make you feel bad about the decisions
you make for your family are morons.Those who give their babies bottles or those who nurse in public are both given the side-eye. Moms can’t win. Now I’ll get down from my soap box.

After a long labor and more than three hours of pushing, I was exhausted but overjoyed, holding this little angel in my arms.I just knew I would cradle her, look into the beautiful blue eyes passed down to her by her father and a glow would surround us as we began the bonding that is breastfeeding. I mean, this is supposed to be natural, right? Women have done this for centuries, right? How hard could it be, right?

Wrong. And wrong some more. Claire would fight the boob like it was poison delivered by a nipple made of broken glass. She would have nothing to do with nursing at all.I broke down and fed her formula (gasp!), which I was perfectly fine with. I was nervous about nipple confusion, but I still was naive enough to think she would come back to me and that glorious glow would find us again and we would both become breastfeeding pros in no time.

Also to consider was, long story short, I was laid off from my job last April when I was 16 weeks pregnant with Claire. Needless to say, I could not find a job given the economy, and on top of that I had an already big belly brewing. I knew I would be out of work at least until early 2010, so we needed to stretch every dollar in order to make it on one salary. Breastfeeding was part of that. We needed to save money at every turn, not spending it on formula when we could feed her breastmilk for free. Not only did I have the pressure I put on myself to be the perfect mom but I also had dollar signs flashing in my mind. The day after Claire was born I said to myself, come hell or high water, I would breastfeed Claire. I would not let her or my checkbook down.(And I am fully aware that this is pressure I put on myselfnot that anyone else put on me.Don’t ever let someone pressure you do something or be someone.)

So I spent lots of time with the lactation consultant in the hospital, and things slowly got better. Claire needed four or five formula bottles while we were there, and other than that, was starting to get the hang of the boob. I was so proud.Proud of myself. Proud of my baby. Really proud of my super supportive husband. We were a family, and we were making it through the first of many obstacles together.

And then we go home. And things got worse. Claire had lost more than the average 7% of her body weight before we were discharged. And when we saw the pediatrician again at 4 days old she was down almost 2 pounds from her birth weight. The pediatrician recommended we up the formula because Claire was simply not gaining enough weight. I began to doubt the idyllic breastfeeding situation I had fought so hard to create.

My milk finally came in when she was a week old. Now, I knew we would get back on track. Wrong again. Even with my crazy-full boobs waiting to be relieved, Claire still wasn’t getting enough to eat. So at ten days old, I packed up my momma and my babe and we trekked back to the hospital for another visit with the lactation consultant. The visit that would change everything.

To be continued...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sweet Sunday Slurp- I'll Love You Forever

Today's Sunday Slurp is a beautiful submission by reader Jessica and is a beautiful story of love, family and knowing the decision to breastfeed was the right thing to do. A story of true love.

My sweet nursing story (my favorite one at least lol) happened when my son was 3 months old. It was Valentines Night and he was nursing in my arms and drifting off to sleep I was laying in bed with him nursing. I had started to sing when my husband laid behind me, wrapped his arms around us and sang with me "I'll love you forever/I'll like you for always/As long as I'm living/My baby you'll be" (from the book I love you Forever Robert Munsch). That moment really cemented my choice in breastfeeding, the incredible love for my family and Nicholas (my son) agreed too. As he fell off to sleep his little lips fluttered into a smile. ♥

If you are interested in making a submission to be considered for Sunday Slurp, please leave a comment here or on our Facebook fan page. We're looking for short, sweet nursing stories every week.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Telling the good stories

It can be easy to get overwhelmed if you even just dip your toe into the breastfeeding debate. People can feel very strongly about anything related to breast-feeding and passionately express their opinions. Personally, I like passionate people, even people that passionately disagree with me. Living life with passion makes it exciting and hearing about others passionate opinions on any given subject gives me the opportunity to learn and grow. Even if it is to learn and grow more deeply in what I believe.

That said, the clamor of passionate voices can get to be a bit much for a new mom and her family. Even before baby comes everyone is an expert with the right way to care for the new little person. After the little one is taking up residence in the family's home, all those experts, and then some, come out and start grading. It's nerve wracking to say the least. When it comes to breast-feeding, it is down right intimidating and can be really scary.

Particularly when baby needs to eat and you're out and about. Nursing in public, or NIP as it is often referred to, can spark a heated discussion just about anywhere. From the internet, where blogs, forums, facebook groups, and websites fan the flames of in-your-face debate, to mom groups, where not-so-subtle expressions burn branded looks of almost partisan level judgment from all sides. Not to mention everywhere in between: churches, restaurants, media, playgrounds, offices, and pretty much anywhere people talk. The issues? Not as cut and dry as they appear, actually. Is it about modesty? Covering up? Not covering up? Offending someone? What somebody may see? What somebody may not see? Efforts to normalize breastfeeding? A mother meeting her baby's needs? Indecency? Who gets to define decency? Eating on the toilet? Being discreet? Being rude? And what is rude? Family friendly? And on and on and on. It is enough for a woman to never leave home if she chooses to breastfeed. Or at least, to never leave home without a bottle for the baby because should she need to feed that baby with her breast she could very well experience humiliation at the hands of everyone around her. And seriously, who needs that? Not a new mother, that's for sure. Because the journey of motherhood doesn't already redefine a woman to such an extent that her insecurities are sky high. Now let's add this into the mix. Let's tell her that breast is best, give her the support and education she needs to succeed at it and then scare the shit out of her so she never leaves the house and ends up depressed. If we know that breast really is best then our behavior towards a breast-feeding mother and her child should not shame or punish her.

If you listen to all the voices out there it would be easy to think that every time a woman puts her child to her breast in response to that child's hunger TV cameras and nay-sayers immediately appear. Even those that greatly support public breastfeeding end up talking more about the negative experiences than the positive ones in an effort to help educate and defend the rights of moms and babies. Those experiences do need to be talked about, and loudly. We need to shine the light of investigation and outrage, holding companies and individuals accountable when a mother and her child are treated poorly for NIP. The only ones that should be shamed are those that attempt to imply that a NIP mother is some how doing something bad. Education is needed for breast-feeding including NIP. So I don't want that to stop. But I do want something to start.

Let's tell the positive stories too. The funny ones, the heart-warming, encouraging tales that let moms and families everywhere know that lifting your shirt to feed your baby shouldn't be a nerve inducing experience. There are people that show support for breastfeeding women in public and do so in really wonderful and encouraging ways.

The Leak Boob wants to help tell these positive stories, to start a collection of the good times had NIP. Please share your positive NIP tales with us. We'd love to hear from anyone, moms, dads, family members, and the people supportive of breastfeeding. Share either in the comments below or e-mail us your story to post here. Let's give moms some encouragement through personal experiences that no matter where they are, if they cover or not, there are people that won't be freaked out by them doing the best for their baby. We got started here, thanks to our Facebook "leakies."

From the wall... Positive Breastfeeding Stories

There are beautiful, encouraging, positive breastfeeding in public stories out there. When we asked on our Facebook wall what the nicest thing someone has said or done for you when you were breastfeeding we got some very beautiful replies. Sharing them here seemed like a good way to get started highlighting positive results of NIP. So, from the wall...

What is the nicest thing someone else has said or done for you when you were breastfeeding?

Miranda: I think the thing that pleased me the most was the unexpected support I got from my dad. He called me up at the hospital to talk to me and see how I was doing. Then he asked me if I was planning to breastfeed, and I told him yes. He said, "Good for you!!" I hadn't expected any kind of discussion about that between me and my Paw, but his unexpected support was so nice!! Also, when I flew out to visit my parents in March, my dad was nice and pulled off some random exit on I-15 between Vegas and their house in southern UT just so I could feed my little man!!

Diane: People seem to give a lot of praise for breastfeeding twins but what I like most is when my husband brings me food and drink while I nurse and then rubs my feet :)

Nicole: definitely was when I was nursing Bailey in the sling at the grocery store, women came up and asked if she was nursing, I thought it was strange, then went on to say we need more moms BFing and doing it outside the comfort of their own homes. Most people around here FF so it was really nice.

Bonnie: I NEVER covered my baby when I nursed him- A lady stared at me for awhile, making me slightly uncomfortable, then came over and THANKED me for nursing in public, she said she nursed 5 children and she wishes she could have been able to do it ( 30 years ago) as freely as I was. Ironically I was at lunch with my mother who had scolded me for nursing at her city office less than 20 mins prior.
I treasured the lady for saying something, and I think of her frequently when I nurse in public.

Hannah: The first time I breast fed in public my son was about 2 weeks old and we were at our favourite pancake place. I was heaps self concious and had a blanket over him and this peppy little 16 year old waitress comes bounding over to take our order and squeals "Oh my god, do you have a baby under there? Are you breastfeeding? Can I see? It's so beautiful! Do you want a glass of water? My sister just had a baby and she always drinks a glass of water when she's feeding!" And she dashed off to get me one. It was the perfect first time out in public, and I didn't wear a blanket after that : ) A week or so later I was at the supermarket and a lady was staring at me feeding so I smiled at her and she came over and asked how old I was (18) and congratulated me on being brave enough to feed in public. She said she'd BF all her children but had never had the guts to do it without a blanket :( And the other time I really remember was standing in line at Target at trying to juggle my handbag, my shopping bags and a huge heffalump of a two year old on the boob (since he was 18 months he's always looked a year older than he is) and a woman standing across the room from me beamed at me and mouthed 'Beautiful". that really made my day =D

Heather: (It's a) toss up between my husband feeding my as I nurse, and my grandmother who raised 5 daughters while working full time telling me how proud she was of me and how impressed she was that I was able to nurse so long.
It's also really sweet when my father rubs the baby's head and smiles lovingly at her as she nurses :-) Now that he has four granddaughters, all of whom were breastfed, he's pretty comfortable.

Sarah: I live in Oslo, Norway. My first outdoor bfíng experience was on a tram. I was a bit exposed, and was struggling a bit with my 1 week old baby. Three older women (all traveling separately it turned out) were near me, and when one of them made eye contact before the got off the tram, I expected a bit of a stern look. Although Scandinavia is very pro breastfeeding, the older crowd can frown upon nursing in public. But she smiled encouragingly and warmly before she got off. When the other two women did the same, I was so happy I nearly cried! It would have hurt to get stern looks on my first trip out with baby.

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