Breastfeeding mothers everywhere should be excited for the month of August. First the there is the week between the first and the seventh. It’s World Breastfeeding Week. The fun doesn’t stop there either. The whole rest of the month is Breastfeeding Awareness Month.
World Breastfeeding Week
All you need to do to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week is log on to WorldBreastfeedingWeek.org. There are downloads and contests. There is even a pledge that you can take as a breastfeeding mother. They list their objectives quite clearly, and they really aren’t anything anyone could object to. My particular favorite is getting young people of both genders interested in breastfeeding and how it is still relevant in our changing world today. With the easy access to formula and our fast pace society here in the United States it’s easy for us to want to sweep breastfeeding under the rug. This week is to help keep that from happening. Downloads consist of action folders, calendars, desktops, and even promotion flyers. Plus the materials come in a variety of languages.
“I use an Ameda Purely Yours with 25 millimeter flanges, but the white valves need to be replaced and it wouldn’t hurt to get a spare set of diaphragms as well.” If you haven’t clicked away from that mess of words already, and you are new to the world of breastpumps, you probably are wondering what on earth everything is! Since most people have had absolutely no reason to research breastpumps at any point in their lives before they had children, the lingo can be mysterious and confusing! Why are there tubes? What is a flange? Will I feel like a cow being milked? We will explore the basic parts of a breastpump below.
Maybe you’re currently breastfeeding, but need to go back to work. Maybe you’ve decided to be an exclusive pumper. Maybe you just want a backup stash of milk for a babysitter. Whatever the reason, you are in the market for a breastpump! Like many other baby-related items, you probably opened up Amazon.com in your browser and immediately felt overwhelmed by the number of brands and types of pumps available. What should you choose?
Manual pumps: Not for the weak-handed. Alternatively, a good substitute for those strength grip things that are always in the exercise section of the store, but no one ever buys.
These are the cheapest pumps on the market, and it can be tempting for the budget-minded family to just grab one of these. After all, electric pumps can run $300 or more and a manual pump tends to be in the $30-$40 range! Manual pumps are also simple pumps—you have the pump itself which screws onto the top of a baby bottle, and that’s it! They are small enough to toss in your bag and you needn’t worry about keeping track of a dozen small pieces. This also makes them simple to clean.
However, manual pumps are powered by you. Most modern manual pumps require you to squeeze a handle, which draws out the milk. You may need to do this for ten or fifteen minutes, which can grow tiring very quickly. You may have health issues that do not allow you to physically do this. You can also only pump one breast at a time, which can be good if you just need to empty one side because baby has just nursed on the other, or it can be bad if you’re in a hurry and need to empty both sides quickly. Many mothers, however, like having a manual pump stored away as a backup. If their electric pump fails, it’s better to have a manual pump than no pump at all!
I’m religious. I was raised to be modest. I would get angry when my friends would jokingly pull up my sleeve to show off my shoulders. So you’d think I would be adamant about covering up when I nurse my babies. And I guess I used to be.
When I first started nursing, I had the fancy bras and about three blankets to make sure every angle of my body was covered. My husband would be on one side and the baby’s feet sticking out the other, if she kicked enough. This would mostly happen in church since I was a homemaker. So you can imagine me trying to listen to the service while worrying that I was exposing a sacred part of myself to the entire congregation. Those days are long passed.
Now, the people around me would be lucky if I covered up. Not because I believe that women should be allowed to be free. Not because it’s just a body part and people should get over it. It’s because I’m done. I’m done worrying over whether or not I can feed my kid. I’m done carrying three blankets, making sure I packed my wrap, causing a scene whenever I try to cover up. I’m tired of sweaty, red baby face and struggling to keep a cover on when they’re kicking and pulling at it because they’re uncomfortable. I quickly found that if I just slipped my shirt up or down and let the baby latch, no one would ever know. Whereas, if I put in all the effort to get the modesty brigade out, the baby wouldn’t get fed soon enough and would start freaking out and all eyes would be on me. And stay on me through my attempts to keep them under.
Many years ago, breastfeeding was on its way “out.” Advances in the nutrition and development of commercial formulas meant that children who needed to be on formula, whatever the reason may be, were able to thrive on good nutrition. However, with these scientific breakthroughs, and due to an enormous number of factors that I won’t do into in depth here, the general American public came to see formula as “better” than breastmilk, and women who chose to breastfeed were seen as weird, perhaps even “backwards.”
If you nurse, it will probably happen to you: You’re out and about and you THOUGHT your baby was fine, but…uh oh, he or she is doing that telltale “Eh, eh, eh” cry. Baby is hungry, you don’t have a bottle, and there are a thousand people around you! But how will they react to you stepping aside for a moment to feed your impatient child? If you’re like me, every horror story you’ve ever heard on the internet will come roaring back to you and you will grit your teeth until you have a headache and declare that staying at home until your child is weaned is the best course of action.
Nursing in public isn’t too bad once you get used to it. At a restaurant you can curl up all cozy in a booth, at a park you can sit on a bench, using jackets to cover yourself and baby if you want. In many states, nursing in public is even protected by law.
Traveling, however, can be an entirely different beast. Every few months another story makes its rounds on the news about a mother getting kicked off of a train or airplane by stern employees who insist that nursing on a plane isn’t allowed, and then if you make the horrific mistake of reading the comments on those news stories you’ll see dozens of people saying ignorant things like, “Well she should have just pumped a bottle before she got on the 10 hour flight, why did she need to nurse on the plane?” It’s enough to make anyone want to second-guess nursing while traveling, but you will probably travel at some point while you nurse a child, and your body will not stop making milk just because you hopped on a bus with sixty other people.
I really hate bra shopping.
Actually, I hate clothes shopping in general. A size large in one brand fits like a medium in another brand and I won’t even talk about what gigantic size I am in junior’s department clothing. Mostly, it’s a huge pain and bra shopping is even worse. Some bras have underwire, some are cut high, some low, some stretch and some don’t, sometimes you want a mix of casual and fancy bras for different occasions and sometimes even if you get measured for your correct size, some brands will just fit weird on you.
And then you get pregnant.
Your hormones don’t care whether you’ve decided to breastfeed or formula feed. Your pregnant body simply starts producing hormones which tell your stomach to start aching, your nose to suddenly hate the smell of orange juice and pork, and your breasts to start preparing for nursing a baby. It doesn’t matter that it will be about three-quarters of a year before you actually have a baby in your arms to nurse, your body just hops on that preparation ASAP. Thus, even if you have decided to formula feed your child, you will likely need to shop around for new bras at some point during your pregnancy.
Nursing bras come in a huge variety of styles and colors, just to make your life THAT much harder.
Breast feeding is both rewarding to mom and baby. There are bonding benefits as well as health benefits. However, our fast pace lifestyle makes it difficult to give our little ones what they need while trying to make a living. What options are there when you go back to work?
Pumping or hand expression in pretty easy to do. Picking a breast pump can be a little more tricky. Many are very expensive. There are pumps that can pump both breasts at the same time. There are one breast at a time breast pumps. There are manual and electric pumps. If you have the time (and the aim) you could even procure milk from your breasts using your own hands. Choosing a pump really depends on two things. How much can you afford to spend on a breast pump? How much time do you have. A double pump may be best if you have less time, even if it is a little more expensive. On the other hand if you have less cash a manual pump may be a better fit.
We all know that breastfeeding is a benefit to our little ones, but what about for mom? It turns out that breastfeeding can be a healthy practice for mom as well.
We all want to lose a little weight after a pregnancy, and breastfeeding can help with that. When done correctly, we eat better while breastfeeding. We also burn more calories as we produce milk for our children. If we were to add routine exercise to our schedule we could be fit in no time. We just don’t want to go overboard with our dieting. That wouldn’t help either mommy or baby.
Less Work For Feedings
Making bottles in the middle of the night can be less than fun when we have a crying baby waiting to eat. Whether we prepare bottles before bedtime and put them in the fridge, or make the bottles at the time of the feeding, they still need to be heated to the right temperature, which can be problematic when we are a little groggy at midnight. It’s much easier to be able to sit in a rocking chair and pull out a breast to feed our child in less than a minute. An added bonus would be less bottle cleaning or the scent of bad formula. Nasty!
A new mother’s relationship with food when nursing should be a healthy and cautious one. It’s important for us to remember that our children are also dependent on our nutrition.
Foods To Avoid
I admit that I look forward to being able to enjoy certain foods after being pregnant, but it’s still important to run these foods past a doctor if you are nursing. For example, when breastfeeding it’s still important to avoid fish with high levels of mercury content. Large amounts of caffeine should also be avoided. Some people will tell us that sushi is fine to eat, while others will maintain that raw fish is still suspect and therefore off the menu. When in doubt, take the question to an expert not the internet.
In addition to this, it isn’t safe just to assume that all herbs are safe to use while breastfeeding. This is not true for some herbs and can vary from patient to patient. Once again, when in doubt ask a professional.
Food To Increase Milk Production