Friday, October 29, 2010

This Moment- Fall has come

{this moment} - A Friday ritual from Soule Mama, one of my favorite bloggers. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

Wishing everyone a lovely weekend!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

KIDS EAT FREE!- PumpEase Organic Giveaway

The beautiful Wendy of PumpEase is giving away a PumpEase Organic,  to a lucky Leaky this Halloween weekend. And Wendy is willing to ship anywhere, it's a global giveaway!

PumpEase Organic is the world's ONLY organic hands-free pumping bra.  Designed from a beautiful, unbleached and undyed knit fabric that was custom milled just for us from 90% certified organic cotton and 10% spandex, it has a wonderfully soft hand, making it a dream to wear!
Like our original hands-free pumping bra, PumpEase Organic features patent pending, 'no-stitch' horn openings, guaranteed to accommodate any breast pump on the market.
PumpEase Organic is as easy on the environment as breastfeeding is!™

  • To be entered into this give-away go to the PumpEase website and find your favorite product in her store, come back here after you've "liked" the PumpEase Facebook page saying "I like PumpEase" and let us know your favorite product Wendy carries in her store.

  • For an additional entry, share this give away on a social networking site such as Facebook, Twitter or a parenting board (Not TLB forums) and let us know how you shared it in another comment.

That's it!  This giveaway is Runs from Thursday, October 28th to Monday, November 1st.

 No trick, just a treat for those that just can't wait or are eyeing one of the other marvelous products on the PumpEase site, Wendy has given us an awesome and generous code for 15% off just for Leakies good through November 8th: LEAKIES15.  Happy shopping!


This Give-Away Is Now Closed!
Thanks to PumpEase and everyone that entered.

The winner is Randi K! PumpEase will need your shipping address could you e-mail me that information? Congrats and enjoy!

Don't forget the 15% discount code available through the November 8th!

Thank you Wendy for your generous giveaway and support of TLB!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Nestlé Boycott Form Letter

Is your family participating in International Nestlé-free Week: 2010?  Mine is.  I had intended to get a post up today I was working on about why my family boycotts Nestlé but for now you can read this from PhD in Parenting or read about what Nestlé did to deserve a boycott here.  Please understand that while part of the reason for the Nestlé boycott does have to do with the way they market their breastmilk substitutes, the boycott is not because they make formula.  Boycotting Nestlé is in no way a judgment on those that use Nestlé formula or any other formula to feed their baby.

So while my post on boycotting Nestlé isn't up yet I did want to share with you a sample form letter you can use to express your concern to Nestlé and inform them of your decision to boycott their products and brands.  Please feel free to copy this letter and use it word for word or to modify as you see fit and sign your name on the bottom.  Let's communicate to Nestlé that the world-wide boycott of their products is in no way over even after 30 years and that it has, in fact, revitalized and will continue to go strong until they make significant changes.

Letters may be printed out and mailed to the address below, e-mailed, or through the contact page on Nestlé's website.


Peter Braceck-Letmanthe
Nestlé SA
Avenue Nestlé
1800 Vevey

Dear Mr. Brabeck-Letmanthe,

It is with the utmost concern that I am writing regarding your business practices; specifically the regular violations of the World Health Organization's International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, the use of child-labor by your cocoa suppliers and careless manufacturing practices resulting in environmental damage.  As my family can not support such a lack of responsibility, we have chosen to boycott your products and brands and will continue to do so until independent evidence shows that Nestlé complies fully with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.  Furthermore, we will be actively educating our friends and family via word of mouth regarding the questionable practices and why Nestlé is one of the most boycotted companies in the world.

Mr. Brabeck-Letmanthe, I urge you to raise Nestlé to be a leading company of integrity, setting an example of global responsibility by changing the unethical, unhealthy and dangerous practices currently applied.  Follow through with your claims of being a company that promotes nutrition [1], health and wellness; of supporting the United Nations Global Compact's guiding principles on human rights and labor with an aim to provide an example [2]; of practicing ethical leadership and personal responsibility [3]; of having a commitment to "protect employees, contractors and others involved along the value chain" [4]; of requiring suppliers, agents and subcontractors to demonstrate honesty, integrity and fairness" [5]; of a commitment to environmental sustainability "at all stages of the product life cycle" and "target zero waste" including "responsible management of the world's resources by all water users" [6]; and adhere to the guidelines of the WHO code of marketing breastmilk substitutes. When these claims can be verified by independent investigations my family and I will happily return as Nestlé customers.  Until that time we will continue our boycott and encourage others to do the same.

Yours sincerely,

[1] Nestlé Nutritional Profiling System via
[2] Nestlé Consumer Communications Principles via
[3] Nestlé Management and Leadership Principles and Nestlé Code of Business Conduct  via
[4] Nestlé Policy on Health and Safety at Work via
[5] Nestlé Supplier Code via
[6] Nestlé Policy on Environmental Sustainability, Nestlé Policy on Environmental Sustainability, and Nestlé Water Report via


Nestlé tries to deny that the boycott has been going on for 30+ years.  They also assert that they are a responsible company but their track record and independent analysis indicates otherwise.  In an effort to recast their image, Nestlé has filled their website with green, health, and human rights buzz words but don't be fooled, they talk the talk, but don't walk the walk.  Together we can hold Nestlé accountable.

Tomorrow look for more on the Nestlé boycott and how this will impact my family's Halloween as well as alternatives to Nestlé products and links with more information and brand lists.

8 Unexpected Benefits of Breastfeeding

Though it is the biologically normal way to feed a baby not every one is sure about breastfeeding.  The beauty of breastfeeding is often touted to encourage moms to give it a try because if they knew how amazing it is even the most unsure would at least think about breastfeeding.  Everything from health benefits to ease of use, breastfeeding is praised for the dream infant nutrition system it is.  These are good things and we should promote them but over the years I've discovered a few, shall we say unexpected benefits of breastfeeding?  Sure, it's great that breastmilk can do things like reduce a woman's chance of breast cancer, boost a little baby's immune system, and even have stem cells in it but I bet you didn't know breastfeeding can be an orgasm alert!  Oh yeah, there are some seriously good unexpected benefits from something so normal as breastfeeding.  I'm going to do my part in encouraging women to give breastfeeding a go with 8 Unexpected Benefits of Breastfeeding.

1.  The best excuse to sit around
Don't feel like making dinner? Gotta feed the baby!  For the last 10 months I've made breakfast maybe a dozen times all because Smunchie needs her breakfast too and the next thing I know The Piano Man has coffee and either eggs and toast (or a frittata, yum) or pancakes going.  Oh darn, sorry sweetie, I was planning on getting that started just as soon as I could.  I was stuck on the couch feeding a poor, helpless little baby!

2.  Escape plan A 
Trapped in a conversation with someone you want to get away from?  Oh dear, baby's hungry!  I don't believe women need to worry about being discreet about breastfeeding in public but if one suddenly feels modest and needs to go sit some place quiet to nurse nobody will blame you and you can get away from the uncomfortable conversation with Whatshername Won'tstoptalking.

3.  The kitchen fall back plan
Making pancakes but ran out of milk?  No worries!  And if you don't tell anybody they may all wonder what you did different that made your flapjacks so much more yummy.  Don't tell them until after they're done though, seems even children that grew on your milk before can become squeamish at the idea years later.  And hubs won't know if it's the creamer in his coffee either.

4.  Bigger B@@bs!
It's true a woman's breasts usually increases in size during pregnancy and remains that way or bigger while lactating.  You may not have ever cared if you got bigger boobs but it is still interesting to see them change, never a dull moment!

5.  BUSTin' at the seams = SHOPPING!  
Legit reason to go shopping, nothing fits right!  Those bigger boobies need to be comfortable and showcased properly, get the attire to do it in style.  Time to hit the racks or the online boutiques and buy yourself some stylish wear to dress the ladies in and it's totally real, you actually do NEED new clothes you can nurse in!

6.  Weapons of mass destruction 
Make me mad?  Yeah, I wouldn't do that, I could whip one of these full C-cup babies out and with a little squeeze blow you to smithereens.  Or at least get you wet and sticky.  Don't put it past me either, you never know what will set me off.

7.   Double Alarm- well, hello Big O. 
Your partner not sure when you've have an orgasm?  You'll boost his confidence when you come with a double set of sprinklers spraying all over the place.  Many women experience milk spray from their lactating breasts when the orgasm.  Don't let it rain on your parade, enjoy the new twist on doing the deed!

8.  Cure-all in a cute package 
Baby got a blocked tear duct?  Squirt a little breastmilk in her eye.  Diaper rash?  A breastmilk rinse and then some naked time will clear that up in no time if it's not a yeast based rash.  Cut?  Ready, aim, squirt!  You guessed it, a little spray of breastmilk on the area and watch it heal in record time.  From acne to ear infections, breastmilk has amazing healing properties!  People, it has stem cells in it, breastmilk is the stuff modern medicine wants to be when it grows up!  And for more amazing health science on breastmilk try googling HAMLET (all caps) and breastmilk.  Prepared to be wow'd.

9.  Facebook/Twitter/Blog/Surfing time
I admit it, most of the time when I'm on some social media networking site I probably have a baby attached and if I'm lucky and she's really hungry I can stretch it long enough to get caught up on all the people I follow or even write a blog post.  It's called NAK (Nursing At the Keyboard) but it could also be called NeTCFToN (Need To Check Facebook Time to Nurse) because how else would I find the time?  A Leaky's got to do what a Leaky's got to do.  (Are you a Leaky?  Go like our Facebook page and join the fun!)

Oh rats, that was 9.  Now it sounds like I just couldn't come up with one more for a nice round 10.  Oh well.

Not only have my boobies given me healthy babies they've also healed rashes, bought me time to sit, and given me an excuse to shop for new clothes.  There is a lot of wonderful stuff about breastfeeding and I'm a fan but even I don't love every second of every breastfeeding session.  I tell you what though, I sure do love The Piano Man making me breakfast while I get my Tweet on.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

TLB Gets a Little Support- Welcome PumpEase!

I am so excited to welcome a PumpEase Hands-Free Pumping Supports as a new sponsor on The Leaky B@@b! Wendy, the mom behind PumpEase offers a wonderful product and has worked hard to build a company that supports breastfeeding moms.  Wendy's been there so she knows what kind of support we need!  See the cute little add on the right?  She totally gets us moms and has a fun, funky, stylish look to her practical product.

As a sponsor, Wendy will be giving TLB readers a chance to win one of her PumpEase Organic hands-free pumping bra in an upcoming give-away so stay tuned but don't wait to get your own PumpEase until then.  Check out her website for cute prints and other necessary and fun products, two of my personal favorites are the practical breastmilk storage guidelines fridge magnets (at just $2.50 every pumping and storing mom should have one of these!  It could save you liquid gold!) and the tiny spurge-worthy Nursing Mother Goddess Necklace in stony turquoise. *drool*

Wendy was recently on The Dragon's Den, the Canadian version of The USA sow Shark Tank.  Determined, stylish, and just a really cool mom, Wendy raised breastfeeding awareness just by going on the show to market her PumpEase.  Check out the clip of her presentation!

Thank you Wendy for your sponsorship of The Leaky B@@b and the support you give breastfeeding moms everywhere!

Friday, October 22, 2010

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual from Soule Mama, one of my favorite bloggers. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

Wishing everyone a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Breastfeeding Hard?

You had a baby.  Somewhere during your pregnancy or maybe even before, you realized that the baby inside you was going to have to come out.  Your fantasies up until this point had mostly been about round bellies, shopping for baby things and then, like magic, holding a tiny bundle of a person.  Rosey and shiny visions where even the diapers are adorable.  There may be moments of panic where a little voice freaks out in your head that you're going to be a mother.  But it's exciting too.  And then it hits you: you're going to have to get it out of you.  Perhaps a movie reel begins in your head with sound bites of conversations you've either been a part of or you've overheard and soon you've created a composite of what you imagine your birth is going to be and it plays like a horror movie over and over in your head.  Even worse, people may start sharing their own horror stories telling you about their births.

I've never understood this, by the way.  See a glowing, beautiful, happy looking pregnant lady and let's tell her the scariest crap about birth ever.  Because that's real sweet and encouraging.  What kind of person does that and why?  Sadists.

If TV, movies, and personal horror stories dominate our view and understanding of childbirth as a society then we have lost our birth culture.  We have replaced it with a Hollywood version, a version of sensationalism and fear.  It may be more entertaining but it isn't very inspiring.  And so we lose the true culture of birth and replace it with something... other.

Then it happens.  Hopefully you've prepared yourself by taking a childbirth education class by the time the actual birth rolls around and have replaced your horror film composite with positive birth images but either way, that baby is coming out.  Regardless of how your little bundle is born, it's hard work and, let's be honest here, it changes you forever.  Often during labor a woman will say "I can't" but then she does.  When a birthing woman I'm attending says these words I know two things: she is probably close to the end and she already is doing it.  You can't do this?  You already ARE!  Sometimes that is all we need to hear to release our fear, listen to our intuition and just do, just be.  In labor you experience some of the hardest work of your life.  Even if you get the drugs and you don't feel what's going on, your body feels it, your body does it and you bear the marks of the last leg of the journey toward motherhood.  Home, hospital, birth center, unmedicated vaginal birth, epidural vaginal birth or cesarean, this experience births not only your baby but you as a mother as well.  In this experience you discover that you, the mother you, is strong, powerful, courageous, beautiful, gentle, nurturing, determined, and so much more.  You are any one of those things in any given moment.  You are all of those things at once.  You are Mother.

And just like that it is over. The journey towards motherhood complete.  Now you embark on the journey of motherhood, a journey you will be on for the rest of your life.

Breastfeeding may be normal, it may be totally natural but it isn't always easy.  Sometimes that catches us by surprise and our confidence flies out the window.  When a new mom is at her wits end, exhausted and unsure, when she can't see what she has become on her journey to motherhood and now fear is all she hears, a new horror flick may begin to run through her head.  This time it is about breastfeeding and she doesn't know it but she's been booby trapped (Best For Babes shares how).  This new film is punctuated by an alarming number of sound bites from well meaning friends, family and strangers saying things like "breastfeeding is so hard!" "formula is just as good," "not everyone can breastfeed, I couldn't, you probably can't either," "what's your partner going to do if you breastfeed?" "If you put them on formula they won't have to eat so often, they must not be getting enough if they are always so hungry!" and the oh-so-supportive "you won't make it past a few weeks at most."  Add in formula advertisements that promise brain boosting all-natural additives, claim to be perfectly formulated to meet your baby's needs, offer the allure of sleeping through the night, dish up precisely measured scoops so you know exactly how much your baby is getting and powder in a can sounds like the greatest fear and stress reducer available to new parents.  Even worse, those fears can be handed a megaphone when inadequately educated experts; OBs, RNs, pediatricians, and even some midwives and lactation consultants are sometimes undereducated and perpetuate some common myths about breastfeeding and early infant feeding and growth.  They tell her how, when, with what, in what way, how often what it looks like, what it sounds like, what it feels like, what it weighs like, what it charts like.  In fact, the information may clutter things up so much a mom doesn't have the chance to listen to the natural desires of herself and her baby.  She may be so distracted and worried about doing it wrong that nothing is going right.  (I absolutely adore what Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PhD, IBCLC has to say on an over-left-brained approach to breastfeeding)

Barring any true breastfeeding problems such as Insufficient Glandular Tissue (google it) or other legitimate problems, most of the time what a mother struggling with breastfeeding needs to hear is simply "You can do this.  You ARE doing this."  I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that breastfeeding isn't too hard for anyone.  Is it hard?  Yes, often it is, but I don't believe one single mother would find it too hard.  No, what is too hard is battling lack of support, bad information, fear, societal expectations, and maybe even her own body.  Sometimes a mom may want to give up, I know I have, but breastfeeding is not too hard.  If you put your baby to your breast, if you hook yourself up to a breast pump, you ARE doing it.  There is no guarantee that it will work exactly how it is supposed to every single time but most of the time it will.  Even when it doesn't it isn't because breastfeeding is too hard, it's just the other obstacles that got in the way that were too difficult to manage.

Check out this list of 25 things that could be harder than breastfeeding.  Bet you've done a few of these already.

Just as we have lost the true culture of birth we have lost the true culture of breastfeeding.  When we believe that a what is actually normal, such as a newborn eating every 2 hours (taking up to 45 minutes or even an hour at the breast meaning all. the. time.) or the breasts feeling less full after a few weeks or months as the body regulates supply, when we believe these normal physiological developments are not normal and reach for formula as a first solution then we have forgotten the true culture of breastfeeding.  (Christie Haskell over at The Stir has a post with pictures to demonstrate the size of a newborn stomach if you're wondering why a newborn does eat so often.)  There was a time when instead of calling a lactation consultant about these issues women would have asked a more experienced family member.  Don't get me wrong, I love lactation consultants, I just long for the days when they weren't quite so needed.

We should be honest about our breastfeeding experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly, and the funny too.  However, let's not forget to tell the good and build moms up in their breastfeeding regardless of what becomes the primary source of nutrition for their baby.  Breastfeeding may be hard sometimes but you've probably already handled harder.  And for those of us that have come through breastfeeding challenges with positive and not-so-positive stories, we need to be bosom buddies for others.

So let me add my voice to the chorus of lactation consultants, breastfeeding support organizations, and the host of bloggers and say most women can breastfeed.  Put your baby to your breast and you ARE breastfeeding!  You go girl!  Maybe, just a little, we can reclaim the true culture of breastfeeding.

I know that not everyone can or should breastfeed and I don't wish guilt on anyone that feeds their baby formula.  There is not one single thought in my head that those that give their babies formula are somehow less as mothers or didn't try hard enough or are weak.  I recognize that every situation is different and support all mothers in nurturing their children regardless of how they are fed.  Still, I will continue to encourage breastfeeding and let women know that for most it's not only normal it's entirely possible.

25 Things That Could Be Harder Than Breastfeeding

Is breastfeeding hard?  With all the breastfeeding booby traps facing women it's no wonder so many give up or never even consider it.  But unless she is one of the small percentage that physically can not breastfeed (google Insufficient Glandular Tissue, this and other real physical problems DO happen), when it comes to breastfeeding most women have already faced harder challenges and came through them stronger more resilient versions of themselves.

I asked the Facebook Leakies what were some things they have faced that were harder for them than breastfeeding.  Out of the 51 comments only a very small few said breastfeeding was the hardest thing they'd ever done, most listed other physical and even a few emotional experiences way above the early difficult days of breastfeeding.  Several said that most everything was harder than breastfeeding for them, it was just that easy in their experience- don't hate them those luckies!  Considering that many women regularly have their hair pulled out of their skin with teasers plucking one at a time or wax ripping the whole kit 'n caboodle off at once, I seriously doubt there is much one could through at us that would be too hard.

25 Thing that could be harder than breastfeeding.
What you may or may not face or maybe even already have that is harder than breastfeeding or breastmilk pumping.  Many thanks to the Facebook Leakies for this list!

Emotional and stressful situation challenges:
  • Depression
  • Isolation
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Deployments
  • Finding a balance between kiddos and being at peace with a messy house
  • Recovering from birth trauma 
  • Relationship issues

Out of our own control Physical and Illness Challenges:
  • Morning sickness
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Urinary Tract Infection
  • Period cramps
  • Recovering from an emergency C Section
  • Food poisoning
  • Being sick while having to take care of a baby
  • Walking in the last month of pregnancy
  • Labor
  • Stubbing your toe
  • Stomach flu
  • Constipation
  • Lack of sleep
  • Sinus infections
  • Gallbladder pain
  • Episiotomy recovery or 4th degree tear
  • Back pain
  • Strep Throat
  • Kidney Stones          
  • Tooth ache

Elective Physical Challenges:
  • Bikini wax 
  • Tattoo  
  • Running around the block (or running at all)

Please don't think I'm saying that women that don't breastfeed are wimps or that it being too hard is the only reason women don't breastfeed.  I know this isn't true.  I also know that any combination of these things could make breastfeeding not only very difficult but a part of a more encompassing difficulty.  Sometimes though, if everything does work right we just need to see that while it may be challenging we can already handle hard.

Breastfeeding hard?  Yeah, maybe sometimes it is.  Bring it baby, women can handle hard.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Red-Eyed Breastfeeding Monster- Mastitis

Smunchie AKA Mastitis Relief Worker at 9 months old
She looked annoyed, as annoyed as a 9 month old can look.  I gently shook my boob with my hand, hoping to tempt her but she just looked away as if she couldn't be bothered to eat right now.  Obviously she had places to go, things to do, playthings to discover.  Please eat, please, please, please nurse again I begged her.  She all but scoffed at me.  There was no need for the boob right now and we had clearly established long ago that if she needed it she'd ask for it.  Offering it when she wasn't hungry or in need of comfort was just down right insulting.  Biting back tears I mentally called her a brat and immediately regretted it, she wasn't a brat she just didn't need to eat right now and she knows how *this* works.

But I needed her.

This wasn't an emotional need, no, this was a desperate physical need.  Early in the afternoon of that day last week I had the early signs of mastitis and by the evening it was full blown with a fever, aches, breast pain and red streaks across my breast.  The help of my baby was crucial to my recovery.  Since she wouldn't nurse at that moment I decided to hand express into a bowl of warm water.  I nearly cried into that bowl too.  The red-eyed breastfeeding monster had struck.  Mastitis.

Mastitis is interesting.  Not really, actually, it's quite painful.  My friend describes it as a form of torture and thanks to my refresher this past week I'm inclined to agree.  In talking to The Piano Man about it from the shower where I let hot water run over my breast for as long as I could stand it, I realized that a doctor would describe mastitis as "uncomfortable" and then would go on to explain the treatment measures as "uncomfortable" as well.  Meaning: hurts like hell and will feel like someone is kicking you in the chest repeatedly and it's the only way to get better.  I've been told I have a high pain tolerance but the truth is I would rather give birth au naturale than have mastitis.  That may have nothing to do with pain levels however and just reflect the fact that I can be a tad bit goal oriented.  Let me break it down for you.

Labor + child-birth = baby with a bonus that the pain and physical discomfort comes to an end.

Mastitis + frequent painful feedings and massage = get rid of infection and end the pain which hopefully won't reoccur.

It's simple math, I prefer labor.

Antibiotics are the commonly prescribed course of treatment for mastitis but I really wanted to avoid them given that the last time I had antibiotics I wound up with thrush.   When I first suspected at 12.30 pm that Tuesday that the bra I wore was actually a little too tight (why the heck are these things still growing?!) and that missing a feeding on my right side was more than just uncomfortable (by my standards, not what a doctor would say) I immediately took my bra off and tried to convince myself that it would be no big deal once I nursed Smunchie.  But the pain didn't go away.  By 2 pm I was just feeling yucky and my breast hurt more.  Still, I was in denial though I caught myself several times subconsciously massaging the painful breast and thinking "please don't be... please don't be..."  I wouldn't even say the word in my head.  Four o'clock rolled around though and it was starting to hurt to lift my arm, I ached in all of my joints and I just didn't want to even move.  At 5 I finally said that I had the early signs of mastitis.  Ha!  Early signs my foot.  Heat radiated from my breast and pale pink streaks snaked across it and up my chest, getting an angrier shade of red by the minute.  I felt like I could barely move.  When I took my temperature at almost a quarter after 5 it was over 100 and my boob was hot enough to sense the heat through my shirt.

Fine, I'm fighting mastitis I decide.

I took a hot shower, staying in there as long as I could.  Feeling so terrible all over I sat down on the tub floor and shivered against the cold ceramic while hot water streamed over my right breast and I massaged from behind the painful area gradually moving the pressure down toward the nipple.  Eyes glazed over with pain, Smunchie asleep and the big girls distracted with a movie (a rare treat on a week day in our house) I have no idea how long I stayed in there.  Long enough for my butt to be cold and my chest and tummy red from the hot water. 

The rest of my evening was a blur of near tears pain (I would have cried but didn't want to scare my daughters into never being willing to try breastfeeding their own children), breastfeeding, PB&J dinning courtesy of my 7 and 9 year old, getting hit in the sore boob with a wooden toy sword (I'm sorry, wooden knight armor is not welcomed to co-sleep with us right now!), a temp of 103, and desperate texts to The Piano Man at rehearsal:

"Come home soon..."
"When will you be home..."
"My boob hurts..."
"I'm not sure what to do about dinner."
"Can you leave early?"
"The girls are helping, they made dinner."
"There's PB&J all over the kitchen, sorry..."
"OMG I hurt all over!"
"I think the girls made dinner on the floor, sorry."
"I feel helpless..." 
"I just feel so sick."
"I'm sorry I'm so whiney"
"Have you left yet?"
"Call me"
"My temp is 103.2..."
"I think I need to see a doctor..."
"What's worse than having a raging infection in your boob?  Getting hit with a SWORD on the boob with a raging infection."
"Where are you?"
"I really can't take it any more."
"Please tell me you're almost done."
"I can't do this..."
"Can't even pick up my baby without horrible pain."
"You haven't called yet, does that mean you're not on your way?"
"I hope you're on your way..."

You may read those texts and think I was being melodramatic.  Maybe I was.  Or maybe you've never had mastitis.

The next 36 hours I breastfeed Smunchie as often as possible, I took hot showers and massaged my breast as hot water ran over it, I took more Ibuprofen than I did after I was in a car accident, I draped hot wet washcloths around my breast, I canceled everything and pretty much laid in bed for 24 hours, I ate PB&J made by my kids, I researched treatment options and read them multiple times praying reading them would somehow cure me, I nursed in different positions every feeding and sometimes more than one for a single session, and I seriously considered burning that bra.  Sleep that night was fitful, I couldn't sleep on my stomach and for the first portion of the evening I couldn't stay asleep thanks to the fever.  Wednesday morning there was no fever but still the red streaks and slightly less achy all over I had hope that I could beat this on my own.  A low grade fever came back late morning but I hydrated, took a nap, put heat on it, did some hand expression, and breastfed Smunchie again and again and by the time 2pm rolled around I felt confident that I was out of the woods.  By Wednesday evening I felt well enough to brave going into my kitchen and tackling sticky spots with a rag and some elbow grease from the girls' meal-time help.  Thursday I was able to get back into my routine with only faded red streaks and some soreness in my breast to remind me of the previous 40 hours.  I felt a bit like a survivor, like I felt when I completed a pregnancy mostly intact.  There was a taste of bitter victory from having passed a test I wasn't expecting, a test that cost me even though I succeeded.

In the couple of days I pushed through mastitis I found myself thinking "I wish I could quite breastfeeding."  Call me weak, point at me and question my commitment but when I felt so terrible I couldn't prepare a healthy meal for my other children and I knew that even if I kicked it this time there was no guarantee that I wouldn't get it again I wondered if putting the needs of my youngest not just above my own needs but above those of my other children was really worth it.  Though I had signed on for sacrifice in becoming a mother 5 times over, was it fair that they had too as well?  These thoughts aren't new to me, I have them any time I'm pregnant or any time I realize that we all do with less because we have more.  The difference this time was that I had a community, education and experience that I would get through it that it indeed would be worth it.  My friend Sue checked on me and took Lolie to ballet so I could stay in bed and my little online community gave words of encouragement, shared links and information, personal stories and tips and asked me how I was doing.  Even for me, as an experienced breastfeeding mom of 5, I find a huge difference in my breastfeeding experiences between when I had very little support and when I had a lot of support.  In our new way via the internet women have found the community that used to be present in our villages and families, swapping breastfeeding advice, reminding each other how it is, and troubleshooting from a well of experience that is as deep as it is fresh.  While I don't think it makes up for in person contact and community completely I do feel it stands in the gap, a gap left by bad advice and marketing of formula to women that didn't need it a few generations ago.  I love my little community.  It is my hope that every breastfeeding woman can find a community that encourages and supports her breastfeeding.

Here are a few tips and some of what I did to help prevent my mastitis from getting worse and cleared it up.  Please note that

"Heat, Massage, Rest, Empty Breast" if you even suspect mastitis, chant it with me... it's good to go ahead and start this protocol.
  • Heat. Moist heat- I liked to stand in a hot shower, or lie down with warm wet towels or a clean warm wet diaper wrapped around the breast, soak your breasts in warm water either in a bowl or in the tub. 
  • Massage. Massage the breast gently, you may need some lotion or oil to keep from irritating the skin. The massage can help clear a plugged duct by starting behind the lump or painful area and massaging it down toward the nipple.  This is particularly helpful following heat and done while the nursling is at the breast.  
  • Rest. Rest is crucial, the body does most of it's healing repair work when we sleep.  If you can, go to bed with your nursling, plan to breastfeed and sleep doing heat and massage in between.  If you can't go to bed to stay for the day, set up an area for you and your nursling and other little ones that may need you.  You need to rest so movies, drinks, snacks, books, toys, diapers, wipes, even a change of clothes for your nursling so you don't have to get up except to use the loo.  If you work outside the home, treat this like the flue and call in sick.  Trust me, if you don't at first you will be later and it will be longer and much worse.  And doing housework is not resting.
  • Empty Breast. Breastfeed as often as your nursling is willing, start on effected side first each time and check for a good latch.  Don't cut back on frequency, in fact, increase it if you can.  Even though it may hurt more to breastfeed cutting back will only make things worse.  If your little one isn't interested in helping as often as you need it, hand express or pump to keep the affected breast as empty as possible.  Remember though, your nursling is far more effective at this than any machine will be.  Use breast compressions either way.

Dress for Success. As soon as I feel pain or any hardness in the breast I change into soft, unrestricted clothing.  I prefer PJs myself.  Going topless is good too, particularly if you're able to stay in bed with your nursling. 

Fuel. You still have to eat even if you don't really feel like it but you need it to give your body some fuel to work with not only to feed your little one but also to heal itself.  Hydrate often to help your body fight back.  If someone is willing to bring you food so you can stay in bed take them up on it even if it is just PB&J and you'll have to clean the kitchen later.

Medicines.  Ibuprofen, seriously, I don't take meds often or easily but this helped get me through and the inflammation reducer was an important piece of my recovery. I did 400mg every 4 hours from pretty early on.  If my symptoms had persisted without improvement for more than 24 hours or if I had become acutely ill I would have headed in to the doctor for an antibiotic.  Remember, most antibiotics are safe while nursing but if you and your doctor aren't sure you can check here, here or here.

Herbs and natural options. Obviously, breastfeeding, massage, heat and rest are natural but there other options to try as well.  I did green cabbage leaves, keeping them in the fridge and put them on for 20 minutes at a time but for no more than a couple of times in a 24 hour period.  The coolness felt so good after all that heat too.  I also greatly increased my garlic intake as garlic helps your body to boost it's own antibodies and beefs up your immune system.  To get my garlic in I crush a few cloves raw on a baked potato, slather it with plain yogurt and sprinkle on some cheddar cheese along with salt and pepper and maybe some green onion.  I also swallowed a couple of cloves cut in half.  I didn't use any herbs this time around, just some Arnica but a few Leakies suggested Phytolacca and Pokeroot.  I don't know anything about these but have heard good things, be sure to get the help of a trained professional before using any medicines and herbs.  Lecithin can also help clear it up and help prevent it in the future.  If I had ended up on antibiotics I would have upped my probiotic intake and completely cut refined sugar from my diet to minimize my chances with a candida yeast over growth.  When Leakies started talking about Lactation Cookies on Facebook I didn't ask anyone to make me some and I didn't eat oatmeal or any other known galactagogue.  While I didn't want to diminish my supply I also don't want to increase it as this could make things worse.  So pass on the oatmeal until your feeling better.

At The Breast.  Alternate feeding positions,  I've been mostly using the cradle hold,  so I mixed it up with some reverse cradle, football hold, side-lying, side-lying upside down (feet going in the direction of your head), baby sitting up in my lap, and hands and knees with Smunchie underneath me (think cow for this one) to name a few.  And because I'm so devoted to breastfeeding education I even had a helper take pics of my on all fours showing off my stretched out belly (x5) and sick face smiles just to demonstrate this position.  I was feverish and weak, this wasn't nearly as fun as it looks.  And I apologize for the quality, since I wasn't feeling up to locating the camera these were taken on my phone.

Smunchie didn't mind our creative positioning

Dangle feed position for breastfeeding allows gravity to help drain the breast

Prevention.  Sometimes the causes of mastitis are clear, others not so much.  If you can identify why you developed the red-eyed monster destroyer of breastfeeding in the first place you can hopefully avoid it in the future.  That bra?  Yeah, I won't be wearing it again until my breasts have either gone down in size or I'm no longer breastfeeding.  It's just not worth it.  The La Leche League link below has a great list of possible causes.

I hope you are never a part of the 20% of breastfeeding mothers that know the feeling of mastitis first hand but if you do join our club (sorry) don't hesitate to go to your sister breastfeeding mothers for encouragement, help and advice.  As always, be sure to seek medical advice from your health care provider in addition to reaching out to the sisterhood of breastfeeding moms.  Whatever course of treatment works for you, the sisterhood understands and cheers you on and we totally understand the manic texts.

Some helpful information and resources for dealing with mastitis or a plugged duct that may become mastitis.

Kellymom's plugged duct/mastitis chart
Dr. Jack Newman on Blocked Ducts and Mastitis
La Leche League Mastitis-Plugged Duct information

Edited to Add: If you have any helpful links to share, please do so, I'd like to add them here.
The Breastfeeding Network (UK) PDF

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Love and Nutrition At My Breast

Today I am thrilled to have Cindy share her breastfeeding journey with her 4 children and the way it unfolds with each baby and how the whole family becomes involved.

The author, Cindy, nursing her son Alex at about 3 months old, 2002.

I don't remember ever seeing a woman breastfeed during my childhood and teen years. I must have been aware of the existence of breatfeeding, though, because I asked my aunt if she was planning to breastfeed her soon-to-be-born baby when I was 12.

She was about seven months pregnant, and she and my mom were talking bout the cost of formula.  I piped up. "Why don't you breastfeed? It's free!" She looked shocked and said, "Oh, honey, I couldn't do that!"

A few months later I was with her after the baby was born. We went to the store to buy formula without my baby cousin; a baby cried in the next aisle and she soaked her shirt. She was mortified, but all I could think was, "well, looks like she could breastfeed. That's a lot of milk!"

I now have four children; my oldest is 8 and a half, followed by a six-year-old, a four-year-old and my youngest, who is three months old. Three boys and a girl. Let me tell you my favourite nursing memories for these amazing children with whom I have been blessed.

My oldest child, Alex, learned to sign as a baby, and his favourite sign was the one for milk (we used it for nursing.) He would run to me, little fist out, fingers pumping in and out, mouth open. I loved that. He would kiss and cuddle my breasts often.

Cindy nursing Alex after his baptism, Feb. 2002. 
"I was 24 years old in this pic with my first baby, and so proud I was BFing!"

When he was about six months old, he and his daddy made up a breastfeeding game. Alex would latch, and Clayton would pretend he was going to steal the other "baba." Alex would immediately cover my other nipple with a hand and grin. If Clayton made it near the breast, he would laugh and push him away. They would play this until I kicked them both off my chest.

Alex once completely undid my shirt buttons at a restaurant when I wasn't looking. He wanted dessert, I suppose.

Isaac, my second child, was cuteness personified. As a baby, he would pat and caress the beast as he nursed. Once he was older, he showed his good manners by often offering the other breast to his brother or other children, the way you would offer to mix a drink for a friend. (Um, no thanks, Isaac, I'm not a milk bar!) He had a great sense of humour even as a baby, and would often try to nurse upside down as a toddler. When he learned to walk, he treated me like a drive-in, and always wanted to nurse while standing up.

Isaac at about 5 months, in the sling.

As a toddler and pre-schooler, Isaac "nursed" his dollies.

My pregnancy with Naomi, my only daughter, was not normal; I had hyperemesis gravidarum, a rare pregnancy illness that causes severe, unrelenting nausea and vomiting. I felt betrayed by my body during that pregnancy; breastfeeding started the healing process for me. My body could nourish my baby. It could work properly. I was not a failure.

Naomi at birth.

The first time I breastfed her, I was in the recovery room after my C-section, and the nurse had never seen a mother nurse ten minutes after surgery before. But my husband was holding her, and I was alert, so she was game. Naomi learned to latch perfectly; the nurses dragged new moms into my hospital room for days afterward so I could help them with latching.

Naomi was fiercely possessive of my breasts. They were HERS, and no one else better touch! Nowadays, she just wants her own set.

Edward was born in May, and is the only baby I've ever had who has baby fat and rolls upon rolls. After three slim babies, I'm amazed my breast milk can do that. Eddie has also been eager to teach me I don't know everything. He is the laziest latcher ever. EVER. He will open his mouth into a rosebud and expect me to stuff the nipple in. Um, no, Mr. Man. Open that mouth.

Edward's first latch!

It's funny how breastfeeding a new nursling brings back forgotten memories of the others before, I had forgotten that funny sound of expectation babies make as you get the breat out, the "ahuh, ahuh, ahuh" just before you offer the breast. I forgot about the funny satisfied sounds, too, as they drink the milk, "hmm. hmm."  Nursing Eddie means I can relive it all again, and remember my big kids when they were tiny and helpless and got their love and nutrition at my breast.

It also means the older children can watch exactly how well-loved they were as babies. It's funny, breastfeeding is so normal for Alex that he will get right down and kiss Eddie with his own head touching my breast, and he doesn't even think about it. Giving my oldest son these memories of breastfeeding is gratifying. I know that if he has children one day, he will support and love his wife as she breastfeeds, and think nothing of that, either.
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