Monday, August 25, 2014

How Much Time Does it REALLY Take to Use Cloth Diapers

One of the biggest concerns people have about cloth diapering is the time commitment involved, so this got me thinking, how much extra time does it REALLY take to use cloth diapers over disposable diapers?  Now that my curiosity was piqued, I decided that I would take a week and time all of activities that I had to do extra to cloth diaper including:
1. Washing diapers
2. Sorting/Folding/Stuffing and putting away diapers and wipes
3. Refilling wipes containers
4. Spraying out dirty diapers

I timed these activities a few times though out the past week and I even had two of my friends time how long it took them to fold their diaper laundry so that I would have a good average for each activity on a weekly basis.  Note that the numbers should be used as an estimate and is based on some basic assumptions (actual results may vary).  I used numbers assuming one child in cloth diapers at a time and I also calculated based on a mixed diaper stash (all in ones, all in twos, flats/prefolds and pockets) whereas some stashes may take longer or shorter to fold (e.g. pockets probably take the longest). I made a couple assumptions about how often people wash their diapers and how many diapers they use a day (included in the details below).
Washing Diapers
If you cloth diaper, one of the biggest time commitments you will have over using disposable diapers is actually washing them.  I normally tell friends and prospective cloth diapers that the washing part isn't really that big of a deal as its mostly just pushing buttons and pouring in a little detergent.  For the purposes of my calculation I timed how long it took me to set each cycle (including the time to get off the couch and walk to the washer each time) as well as to transfer my wipes and inserts to the dryer and hang up all of my PUL shells to dry.  I found that on average to do the whole task that it took about four minutes each time I did laundry.  I assumed that most people do laundry every other day and therefore 3.5 times a week for a total of 14 minutes a week.
Sorting/Folding/Stuffing and putting away diapers and wipes
This part is definitely the most time consuming of any of the tasks and will be dependent upon what type of diapers you have and if you can talk your husband into helping you ;).  Although it takes the longest I find this part the most enjoyable because I get to see all my clean diapers laid out in front of me.  I also normally do it while watching TV so it's not that big of a deal.  For this activity the overall average was determined based on the assumption that people have a variety of diaper types and that they are folding about 1 wipe for each diaper.  For mixed stashes I found that it took about 30 seconds to fold each diaper (on average and including the associated wipe).  For my friend that only uses pocket diapers the average was closer to almost a minute per diaper and if you had a stash that only had all in ones it might be closer to 15-20 seconds for each diaper.  Based on these assumptions the average time to fold and put away all diaper and wipes was about 8-9 minutes per load (16-18 diapers and 20 wipes) and based on 3.5 loads a week the average is about 30 minutes per week.
Refilling wipes containers
I like to prewet my wipes and store them in a wipes warmer but no matter how you do it it takes a little bit of extra time to wet cloth wipes than it does to use prepackaged disposable wipes.  I find that I wet mine about every other day and that it takes me about a minute and a half each time I fill the warmer for a total of 5 extra minutes a week.  This total does not take into consideration any extra time to make your own wipe solution as I frequently just use distilled water.

Spraying out dirty diapers
The last activity (and probably my least favorite unless you are considering the positives of poop) that requires more than with cloth diapers than with disposable is taking care of any solid waste.  I timed how long it took from baby to diaper pail with various types of situations (from plopable to super messy) and found that on average it takes about one minute to deal with a dirty diaper.  Your weekly time will depend upon how many messy diapers you get a week but my calculations assumed about 10 diapers a week for a total of 10 minutes.
Total Time Spent
If you add up all of the time spent from the activities above you come up to 59 minutes a week, so just under an hour!!!  Of course this doesn't take into consideration that if I was using disposable diapers that I would spend time cutting coupons, searching the Internet for the best deal or driving to the store and battling diaper rash.  Overall spending an extra hour so that I can use cloth diapers on my girls seems very worthwhile to me but being a CPA I really needed to quantify the amount of time I spend so stay tuned for my next post (hopefully soon) where I translate the time savings into dollars!
post signature

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Buttons Diaper Trial Results and Giveaway!

Number of uses: 18

Number of leaks: 5

Longest wear without a leak (one insert): 3 hours, 30 minutes

Big Booty factor – One Insert: 3.5

Best Use: Around the House, As a Cover

* I love the versatility to either snap in an insert or use as a cover
* Reusable shell saves you $$ (and these are inexpensive to start)
* The tummy has elastic which helps keep in any messes/wetness
* I couldn't get a good fit with two inserts, it always leaked
* The night time insert is bulky and always leaked for me
I have been eyeing the Buttons diapering system for a while and I was really excited when I got the opportunity to put one through my diaper trial.  I received a cover and one day time insert as well as one night time insert to try out. The Buttons diaper system has a wipe-able shell with snaps on the inside of the front and the back so that you can snap in the inserts and reuse the shell multiple time.  They also have a night time insert that snaps onto the back of the day time insert so that you have a double layer for night time. After a few days I realized that this is a great cover for any insert and started using my flats pad folded in the cover.  I love that this cover has elastic around the belly to help keep in any messes.  The covers are similar to Best Bottoms covers but have the belly elastic ensures that we don't have any belly leaks for my belly sleeping kids, big plus for me!
I found the provided buttons inserts to have average results in regards to the diaper trial.  I pushed the inserts really hard and all five leaks reported were either overnight (with one or two inserts) or after 3.5+ hours.  So the results show that this was a very good performing diaper.

Overall I really love the versatility of this diaper.  The snap in inserts are so easy for daddy, grandparents or other childcare providers and the cover is amazing over a flat or prefold.  This is a quality diaper for a great price and now you can win one for yourself!!  One person will win one buttons diaper cover and two daytime inserts ($18 value).  This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents, use the Rafflecopter form to enter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was provided a complimentary diaper cover and inserts for my trial, all results are my own.
post signature

Monday, August 11, 2014

Happiness Happens Through My Children's Eyes

With two little girls, happiness is easy to find these days.  When asked to write about how I make Happiness Happen by Happy Family Brands I could easily write a months worth of blog posts but what it all boils down to is seeing the excitement of new activities and the simple pleasures through my girl's eyes.

Here are some of the ways that we made Happiness Happen as a family this past weekend.
At least five out of seven days a week my girls and I will have a dance party.  My older daughter will ask if we can dance to her "favorite song" which can be translated into the Madagascar version of "I like to move it, move it".  I will put it on repeat and each girl will grab a doll and we will dance in the living room.  
Of course no weekend is complete without family time and when you live in Florida going to the beach with kids is so much fun.  My girls are now old enough to enjoy playing in the sand (without eating it) and love splashing in the water and collecting shells.

My mom and dad came to visit for a few hours on Saturday and my mom loves to play with my girls.  My older daughter and "Memaw" spent at least 30 minutes having a pretend birthday party.  I love seeing my daughter use her imagination in such fun ways.

She may not look happy but Memaw bringing her a stethoscope was the highlight of her weekend.  She has been asking for one for weeks and my mom secured a disposable one for her (that actually works really well).  Everyone got a checkup this weekend and being healthy of course makes us all happy!
By the end of the weekend it's clear that a few small moments add up to our overall happiness.  At night my husband and I lay in bed and just recount how lucky we are to have so much happiness in our lives.
Disclosure: This post is part of the Happy Family Brands Happiness Happens sponsored campaign.  All opinions share in this post are my own and not those of Happy Family Brands.
post signature

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Overcoming Breastfeeding Obstacles: Sorting Through All of the Information

Throughout the past week I have been honored to use my blog as a platform to share the stories of nine other moms and their breastfeeding success.  I hope that this series can be a resource for moms that are struggling with breastfeeding or moms looking to breastfeed. Mostly I am glad to celebrate their success!!I originally didn't plan on sharing my story but in the end it didn't seem fair not to so here it is.
I'm a researcher, my husband and I joke that sometimes we research ourselves to the point of indecision, but when I was pregnant one decision was easy, I wanted to breastfeed my baby.  My mom breastfed me and my sisters and all of my research pointed to "Breast is Best".  To prepare myself for success I did all of the right things: I read books (I highly recommend The Nursing Mothers Companion), my husband and I attended a breastfeeding class (he was the only guy in the whole class!), I watched YouTube videos and I talked to other moms who had successfully breastfed.  I'll never forget during one of my OB visits while talking with my doctor about how important breastfeeding was to me she told me "Breastfeeding is 95% maternal determination", three years later that still stays with me. 
Despite all of my research, determination and preparation breastfeeding didn't come easy to me.  My first daughter was induced 2 weeks prior to her EDD due to suspected Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) and it took her almost two weeks before she latched at all and almost a month before she latched properly.  I sought out Lactation Consultants while in the hospital, after leaving the hospital, through my employer sponsored LC phone program and no one could help me.  From all of the LCs that I contacted no one was able to really help me and I actually felt that they gave me a lot of bad information like "your baby is just too tiny to breastfeed".  This was all really discouraging to me and I spent the first two weeks of her life pumping and bottle feeding her.  THEN my sister came down to visit and everything changed.  My sister is a NICU nurse so she has a lot of experience getting even the tiniest of babies to breastfeed and she was able to get us up and going within a day.  Over the next few weeks it still took some adjusting to get the right hold, positioning, etc so that we had a good latch but I cried tears of joy the first time my sweet Claire nursed!  My next problem was that after pumping so much my body was in serious overproduction mode.  Ever Lactation Consultant I talked to told me not to quit pumping or else my supply would go down, which is the most terrifying thing any nursing mother could hear.  Of course I figured out later, I wanted my supply to go down and that my body was smart enough to regular down to just what my baby needed.  I started just pumping to comfort and holding out as long as possible without pumping and within a few days I was "off" the pump!  We had a great nursing relationship from then on and she successfully breastfed until she was almost a year old.  We would have gone longer but by her first birthday I was 16 weeks pregnant and my milk had completely dried up.
With my second daughter things seemed to be easy from the beginning and she even crawled up to my breast to nurse the first time she was placed on my chest.  The second time around was much easier but I did still have problems getting a good latch and I suffered from blistered, cracked and bleeding nipples for a few weeks.  Every time she latched I would cry in pain and every 2-3 hours I would just dread that she was about to want to eat.  Thankfully we just keep working on the latch.  I realized that my problem was that she would start out good and then get tired and lazy so she would start sliding off the nipple.  This was causing the blisters which was in turn causing the other problems.  I figured out that if I held her head more firmly while nursing that she would keep her good latch longer.  I loved nursing my second daughter and we continued until she was almost 16 months old.
After all the stories this week there are just a few things that I want to make sure each reader hears:
1. You CAN do it, there may be obstacles but as you have seen over the past week most of them can be overcome.
2. Trust your body and it's amazing abilities. 
3. Seek out help from family and friends.  I know it can be awkward to see a friends boobs (or show them yours), but how else are we going to help each other.
4. Help other moms!  Only through the sharing of our experiences can we all have more success!
Thanks for a great World Breastfeeding Week 2014!
post signature

Overcoming Breastfeeding Obstacles: The Teacher Becomes the Student

I knew well before I had my daughter, I wanted to breastfeed. Having worked with newborns for 7 years, I had a lot of training and experience teaching mothers how to breastfeed and all sorts of related troubleshooting. I felt prepared and confident when Caroline arrived.

From the time Caroline was born, I had difficulty getting her to comfortably latch on my right side. In the hospital, I was seen by Lactation Consultants who felt she was latching well. The cracking began within the first week and was made worse by engorgement. Every feed was painful and breastfeeding turned into a stressful and anxiety filled experience. Soon, cracking developed on the right side that got so bad it looked like a crater. I tried different creams, airing out, salt water soaks, a breast shield and was seen by another LC and my OB to make sure there wasn't anything I was missing. Many days I just wanted to give up because of the pain. Caroline was able to get my milk and thrive, so I continued to try to improve her latch and work towards my goal of exclusively breastfeeding for her first year. After 3 bouts of mastitis and 2 episodes of Caroline vomiting blood she had swallowed, I decided to pump the injured side for 72 hours to allow healing and feed her the pumped milk in a bottle. I figured out that it was my own awkwardness feeding her on my non-dominant side that was causing her poor latch. I made sure she was well supported and took my time getting a correct latch each time. By 8 weeks old, our feeding times finally became relaxing and enjoyable! She is now 6 1/2 months old and we have a great breastfeeding relationship!

post signature

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Breastfeeding Obstacles: Battling Oversupply

When preparing for the birth of my first baby I read all sorts of books, websites, and took Bradley Method classes. We planned on a natural birth and I was certain I was going to breastfeed. I read a lot about boosting milk supply, because everywhere you read, and everyone you talk to, has a story about not making enough milk. When my milk didn't come in until the 5th day (thanks to a lazy latch), I got worried. However, I had no clue that I was about to face a problem that I never imagined could actually be a problem.
I dealt with the typical engorgement issues that you hear about when your milk first comes in. I would express a small amount just to make it possible for my daughter to latch. I was putting ice packs and warm compresses on to ease the pain. Nothing was working. The engorgement wasn't going away. To add to this, my baby was choking every time she ate. I had no clue what was going on. I was leaking several ounces out of the opposite breast when she ate, and waking up soaking wet every single night. My shirt, my sheets, my pillow, everything was soaked with milk. I tried cloth nursing pads and every brand of disposable one I could find. Nothing could contain all of my milk. I was frustrated.
Now in addition to the choking while eating, my daughter was spitting up during and after each feeding. I took her to the pediatrician and asked about reflux, allergies, anything. Everything checked out fine. I started pumping prior to feeding hoping that would help. Of course I know now that this was a big mistake. I didn't realize at the time that what I was dealing with was an oversupply. I had never heard of anyone actually making too much milk. The pumping I was doing was only making the problem worse. Every time I pumped, I was telling my body to make more milk. So while this temporarily helped my daughter, it was in the end making it worse.
Exhausted, frustrated, and tired of the pain of constant engorgement, I called my Bradley instructor, who is also a lactation consultant. She gave me a few suggestions to help with the oversupply, and suggested that a forceful letdown was more than likely what was causing the choking. She suggested lying back (like in a recliner) while nursing. This was extremely awkward, but did help some. When my letdown occurred, gravity helped. The milk dribbled out of her mouth rather than going forcefully down her throat. She also suggested I block feed. Basically this is feeding from only one breast at a feeding and sticking with that same side through 2 or more feedings. The idea is to help your body understand that it doesn't need to produce so much milk.
The block feeding was my saving grace. While my supply never dropped down to a normal level, it did help to calm it down a bit. The lying back while feeding wasn't always practical. It's fine when you are at home, but out in public, it's a bit difficult. I began carrying around a wet bag and some prefold diapers. I couldn't feel my letdown, so I would watch my baby's face. Her eyes would get big and her swallowing would change. I unlatched her and would catch the milk in the diaper. When the letdown finally stopped, I would latch her back on. It was a little awkward at times, but it was working.
I hoped that after awhile my letdown would slow down some. Unfortunately it didn't. But, my daughter got better at handling it. I no longer had to unlatch her to keep her from choking, she could handle it. Our nursing relationship continued until about a week before her sister was born when she decided to wean herself.
With my second baby I thought maybe my body would have figured it out and we wouldn't have the same issues. That didn't happen, but this time I was a little more prepared to deal with it. I had experience so it was just down to teaching her how to handle it. We dealt with a minor tongue tie and from that point on, our nursing relationship was great. This time around, unlike with my first baby, I could feel my letdown. Just like before, I would unlatch her, catch it in a diaper or towel, and then latch her back on. Eventually she too learned how to handle it. She happily nursed until I was 4 months pregnant with my son.
I now have a 5 month old baby boy. Once again, same issues. But this time there's no stress with it. I'm confident in my ability to handle the issues and this time began block feeding the day my milk came in. I know not to use a pump unless absolutely necessary and that it will get better. We did deal with a more significant latch issue this time around. My big boy came out very quickly causing a lot of bruising on his face and some tight jaw muscles. Poor guy couldn't open his mouth very wide, making his latch extremely shallow. A quick trip to a wonderful chiropractor when he was 4 days old fixed the problem. I fed him immediately after his adjustment and couldn't believe the difference. Nice wide open mouth and no pain for momma.
If you would have asked me in those first few weeks with my first baby, I would have told you I hated breastfeeding. I wanted to quit every single day. But now? I love the moments shared with each of them as I feed them. Even if it does include soaking wet diapers and clothes. I am so grateful for the people who encouraged me to keep going. I am especially grateful my husband who never once suggested I give up. And who woke up with me for every night feeding those first few weeks to help me get my babies latched, and handed me towels and changed our babies when we were soaked in milk. And although an oversupply is a real problem, I am so very grateful that I have enough to feed my babies.

Breastfeeding Obstacles: The Importance of a Support System

The following story was shared anonymously and really illustrates the importance of reaching out for support during your breastfeeding journey whether it be on the Internet (like this blog series), through a Lactation Consultant or through breastfeeding support groups like La Leche League. 

“It’s a Girl,” we all cry after a joyous, natural childbirth. Immediately, she is placed on my stomach and nuzzles her way up to my breast. She knows exactly what to do. I do not. Although I had taken the classes, read the books, Googled-to-the-end-of-the-‘Net, had a supportive husband, an empathetic mother staying to help… breastfeeding was not easy. I was educated, I was passionate about breastfeeding, I was committed to it, I was ready, willing and able – but it was a LOT of work (sore/bleeding nipples, engorgement, plugged ducts, breast infection/mastitis)... and this work was time-sensitive. Had I given-up, my supply would’ve given up.
Rewind 3 weeks prior - Luckily, I had waddled-in to a La Leche League meeting when I was 9-months pregnant. I met other mothers, some not first-time mothers, that were experiencing different challenges or offering solutions at a Library in Westchase on a Sunday afternoon. These women and their babies were magical. Their dedication to the world of breastfeeding was contagious. I exchanged cell numbers with some of them – some even brought me meals when I delivered and one particular angel, Elaine, a LLL Leader was soon-to-be my new breast-friend & coach! She diligently walked me through some positioning advice to make things easier for my daughter and I, looked up information, shared advice, texted me in the middle of the night, took my calls while vacationing with her family…and she’s “just” a volunteer – and her passion gives me the passion to do the same for someone else in the future, when I gain more experience and knowledge. Even when I was desperate to be breastfeeding perfectly or even just pain-free, she made me psychologically feel like I was a success at our breastfeeding journey. Without LLL& Elaine, my daughter would not have this wonderful start to life with the best nutrition, the best bonding time with mommy and a much more peaceful mommy. I know I am not a perfect mother, but I am confident I’m providing the “food of perfection” to my baby, breast milk.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Breastfeeding Obstacles: The Best Laid Plans...

I never once questioned whether or not I would breastfeed my children. My own mother breastfed my sisters and I, and even as a small child, when I would play dolls, I would raise my shirt and stick my baby doll’s head underneath it to feed her. When I got pregnant, I would have dream after dream of what it would be like to nurse my own baby (or maybe I should say nightmare after nightmare because in every dream I’d realize it had been days since I’d fed my baby and I’d wake up in a panic).

(4 year old me nursing my baby doll)
Marlowe was born according to plan, in a birthing center without the use of any drugs, and I assumed breastfeeding would come just as naturally as her labor and entry into this world.  I mean, what could be more natural than breastfeeding your own baby, right? Wrong. So wrong.

She latched on fine about an hour after she was born. I honestly don’t remember much of the few days after she was born thanks to a lack of sleep and a second degree tear (ouch.) But what I do remember is crying when she would cry because that meant I had to go through the awful pain of latching her on to nurse. My toes are actually curling just writing this. My dreams of blissfully breastfeeding my newborn baby went flying out the window and were replaced with chapped nipples and sobbing, and i mean crying my eyes out, if the water from my shower accidentally hit my nipples or if my towel barely brushed them.

Luckily, I had an amazing pediatrician (Dr. Berger) who listened to my concerns and helped me with my positioning, and an birthing center (Labor of Love, Lutz) who recommended I call a lactation consultant that they recommended. This woman (and I can’t believe I don’t remember her name) came to my house, free of charge, and watched Marlowe latch, sat with me while I nursed, and pretty much told me she didn't see anything wrong with me or with Marlowe’s latch, but not to give up. And I didn't.

Marlowe nursing at 13 days old
We've been breastfeeding for almost 19 months now. She’s a busy toddler now, so she only nurses a couple times a day, but those moments are so special to me. She turns back into a cuddly baby and I can just stare at her beautiful eyelashes and smell her sweet skin, even if it is only for 5 minutes before she’s running around the house trying to rip her diaper off or color on the walls.

I want to share my story because I want other mom’s to know that it’s okay if breastfeeding doesn't come naturally at first. It’s okay if you have to ask for help. I had to have my husband help me get Marlowe latched for EVERY SINGLE FEEDING at the beginning. And he loved it! It made him feel like even though he couldn't physically feed Marlowe, he could help in a way that I really needed! And it’s okay if you only make it 2 months, 6 months, 12 months, or 2 years. You are doing the best you can.
Marlowe Now


Breastfeeding Obstacles: Not All Obstacles are Physical

I never wanted to breastfeed.  My husband expressed his strong support of breastfeeding long before children were even really a thought.  I was a formula fed baby and just assumed I would do the same with any future children, even after hearing my husband’s point of view.  Two miscarriages later and finally a healthy baby on the way, I was a little more open minded and decided that I would attempt to breastfeed.
My breastfeeding journey did not get off to the best start.  A day or two into our hospital stay our daughter lost over a pound and hadn’t had a wet diaper in over 12 hours, so we resorted to supplementing her with formula.  The LC suggested that I start pumping in order to try to get my milk in.  We were discharged with our new baby and a hospital grade pump in hand.  I immediately felt discouraged as I was trying to care for a newborn and did not want to spend my time attached to the pump.  Fortunately, I was given the ok to stop supplementing and pumping at my daughter’s first pediatrician appointment.
After I was set free from the pump I was hoping that I would feel a little more at ease with breastfeeding.  As time went on I started to get the hang of breastfeeding with help and support from friends and of course my husband. However, I did not enjoy breastfeeding, I actually started to resent it.  For me, breastfeeding was not the bonding experience that others had described.  Our daughter was very fussy and I was convinced that my milk was the problem.  However, I continued on, not wanting to disappointment my husband.
Around the time our daughter was 10 weeks old I was ready to quit.  I had a short bout of a clogged duct, which scared me.  I cried while confiding in my sister and another friend, that I just did not enjoy breastfeeding.  I also spoke to my husband tried to make him understand how I felt.  He wanted me to stick it out for at least another month, I reluctantly agreed and committed to “just 4 more weeks”.  I began counting down to the ending point in my head.  Verbalizing my feelings made me feel more at peace and sometime during those four weeks my attitude towards breastfeeding changed.  I still did not “love it” but I no longer resented it.  I began to see it as something I just needed to do for our daughter.  I remember admitting to my husband that I was happy that he encouraged me to stick it out. 
My next challenge was going back to work part time when my daughter was 7.5 months old.  I was not looking forward to pumping at work and was convinced that I would not be able to pump up to the 1 year mark.  The first few weeks at work I resented pumping.  With help and support from friends I began to see the positive side of pumping, the “mandatory break” gave me time to catch up on my reading.  Soon I began looking forward to my two daily work breaks. 
I weaned my daughter of all but her bedtime feeding the week of her first birthday.  I held onto her nighttime feeding until a week after she was 13 months. I can honestly say that I miss that sleepy, satisfied look my daughter would give me after she finished her bedtime feeding and it was time to get her into her pajamas.  My own attitude towards breastfeeding was my obstacle and with support I was able to overcome my obstacle.  I am proud of myself for breastfeeding my daughter.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Breastfeeding: The Quest Continues

I gave birth to my beautiful baby boy Leon on June 5, 2014 and was determined to breastfeed. The lactation consultant came in about 2 hours post-birth because he would not latch. She informed me that he had a severe tongue tie and that I would have to pump until it was corrected in an out-patient ENT office. For the first 5 days of his life, my husband would finger feed him my colostrum and milk through a tube while I pumped. Once his tongue tie was “fixed”, he latched, but I noticed that feeding him was getting increasingly painful to the point where I was dreading nursing him. I resorted to using the nipple shield, which was very helpful during this time.

I went to 3 different lactation consultants for a total of 4 times over the next 3 weeks to try to determine why breastfeeding was causing pain and so that I could stop using the nipple shield. I was told everything from you have Reynaud’s syndrome, his tongue tie needs to be redone, you have flat nipples, you have an overactive letdown, he has a lip tie, he has a bad latch, you’re holding him incorrectly, he’s compressing your nipple and finally, the nipple shield seems to be working so just keep using it. Well, as much as I am thankful for the nipple shield because it has allowed me to continue nursing my son without pain, it is an inconvenience to use in public. I took the advice from the second lactation consultant and had his tongue and lip tie reevaluated by a recommended breastfeeding friendly doctor. He agreed that a lip tie and second tongue tie procedure were necessary. We are currently 2 weeks post procedure and I am sad to say I am still using the nipple shield. I think the procedure helped, it took a lot longer for my nipples to feel painful when nursing; I actually thought for a second that I could ditch the shield. But after a week of nursing him with no shield, the pain came back. I am not giving up yet and will work with my son until he is able to latch without compressing my flat, overactive letdown nipples. Until then I am thankful for the nipple shield that is allowing me to nurse my baby.
When I think about the challenges I have faced, they are nothing compared to stories I have read from others. For example I have never struggled with low supply, clogged ducts, mastitis, cracked or bleeding nipples, the list goes on. I think the reality is, breastfeeding is not as easy at is looks, but when you get it right, it’s the most rewarding experience to know that you are providing your child with the best nourishment they can get.



Breastfeeding Obstacles: Keep Calm and Breastfeed On


When my baby was a few months old, I was at a kid’s birthday party chatting with one of the other Moms about breastfeeding. Her comments were something to the tune of “Yeah, I didn’t really think I would breastfeed, but after my baby was born it was so easy and convenient. Same for you?”. My jaw almost hit the floor. I had been breastfeeding for about 4 months and it was hands down one of the hardest things I had ever done. During my pregnancy, I didn’t think twice about whether I would breastfeed or not. It was a given. I knew there would probably be a few obstacles but felt confident that I would be able to overcome them. What I hadn’t bargained on was things going awry from the start.
I had complications after delivery which landed me in the operating room having surgery and a large blood transfusion. Because I had lost so much blood, my milk came in late. For the first few days, my baby screamed despite non-stop nursing. When we were discharged from the hospital she had lost 7% of her body weight and I was told that was normal. At her first pediatrician visit a few days later, she had lost a full pound. My nipples were cracked, blistered and bleeding from the constant feeding. My baby was still screaming with hunger.  We were instructed to supplement with formula and we did. My milk eventually came in a week later and I thought we were home free! Alas, my nipples didn’t heal. Nursing was SO painful. I tried lanolin ointment, Lansinoh Soothies in the fridge were great, basically anything for sore nipples I could find (thank you Amazon Prime!). I asked my OB about it, he said it was normal. I asked my Primary Care Physician about it, he said it was normal too. By this stage I was dreading nursing because of the pain. Sometimes she would nurse on each side for an hour. I tried every different latch position possible. It seemed like she never opened her mouth very wide, it reminded me of a goldfish. It was like she was sucking from a straw rather than expressing the milk. It was agonizing.  I sought out lactation consultant, Ellen Simpson when my daughter was about 2 weeks old. Ellen evaluated us and suggested that she might have a tongue tie. A tongue tie restricts the tongues range of motion so the baby cannot nurse efficiently. It was a lot of work for my baby to nurse (like drinking a massive bowl of soup with a tiny straw), and that is the reason I was so sore. We went to see a Pediatric Ear Nose and Throat specialist the next day and he diagnosed a tongue and a lip tie. He clipped both in the office that day. Numbing medicine was used and she cried for a couple of minutes, but was able to nurse better immediately. Hallelujah!
When she was about 6 weeks old, she started to produce green stools and was very fussy. She had always been very proficient in that area, and very explosive, sometimes shooting poop 4ft across the room if we happened to be changing her when it happened. I noticed that when she was fussy her tummy was cramping, I could feel it against me as I held her. She also wasn’t sleeping very well or very much, and had a mild rash on her face. We went to the pediatrician and she tested positive for blood in her stool. He said to give her bowel rest by giving her only Pedialyte for 24 hours (it also happened to be New Years Eve…obviously we were not celebrating). Our poor baby was starving and not understanding why she couldn’t have her milk. I pumped every 3 hours around the clock so my supply wouldn’t be affected. It was hard for me to hold her because she would be trying to latch on through my shirt. At our follow up appointment, there was still blood so we were referred to the Pediatric Gastroenterologist. There they diagnosed her with Milk Soy Protein Intolerance, and I was instructed to remove all dairy and soy from my diet. In the following weeks, she continued to test positive for blood in the stool despite my very strict diet. I thought she must have allergies other than milk and soy, and one by one removed eggs, fish, nuts, and all the top 8 allergens (I have allergies to wheat and peanuts myself so they were already out). Week after week we went back and they would have us try different elemental formulas, none of which my daughter tolerated. One made her projectile vomit, and the other made her reflux ten times worse. She hated the taste of them so every ounce was a fight to get down. By this time she also had silent reflux and was first on Zantac, and then Prevacid. I pressed the doctors numerous times about whether she could be allergic to something else, and was repeatedly told “No”.  I didn’t listen. We saw an allergist who did skin prick testing when she was 5 months old. She was highly allergic to dairy and all grains except rice. Finally everything made sense. It explains why she continued to react even with the top 8 allergens eliminated; I was still eating oats and other grains. And she was not allergic to soy! Once the grains were removed from my diet she improved. She got better and better and at around 6 months we were able to wean her off the reflux meds.

At times I’ve battled with low supply too, and find that Motherlove More Milk Plus and “power pumping” helps. Power pumping is when you pump for 10 minutes on, then 10 minutes off, for up to an hour. It’s sort of mimicking your baby having a growth spurt and telling the body to produce more milk. Having a great pump is key! I recommend Hygeia brand. Before getting the Hygeia, I had an Ameda Purely Yours and it wasn’t very good. Both are closed systems but the Hygeia is a hospital grade pump.

My little angel is now 8.5 months old and thriving! Nursing is now pain free for both of us. My diet is restrictive but it is worth it to see her so happy and healthy. It is still challenging because I can’t eat out (mostly due to risk of cross contamination) so travel and social scenarios are difficult. I feel lucky I have been able to continue to breastfeed my baby. It has created such a close bond between us and she finds nothing more comforting than nursing. Though we have had a rocky start, I feel confident that she is getting the best start in life I can give her.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Breastfeeding Obstacles: The Working Mother

When I received my first pregnancy book and read about all the benefits of breastfeeding I thought - of course, I'm going to breastfeed. I'll do whatever it takes to give my child the best start and it is going to start with what I feed him.
After my first child, Ethan, was born I was in such a state of happy shock! At the hospital he latched on and off and all the nurses seemed happy with the fact that he was latching even if it was for short durations. So, I took him home, but on the third day he had trouble latching and started wailing during every feeding. My milk had not yet come in. I could only stare at him in awe and helplessness during these feedings, but I did not cry. I felt really determined to make this work! The fourth day my milk painfully came in but he still would not latch and feeding time became overwhelming. My husband wanted me to pump to express milk, but I was nervous about that. I did not want him to have nipple confusion - something I had read about online. However, knowing that he needed to eat I reluctantly expressed milk. I awkwardly learned how to operate a breast pump and was able to feed him a bottle until we could see a Lactation Consultant.

The Lactation Consultant did an evaluation and gave me a nipple shield. That was like magic. Suddenly, he was eating and eating a lot. He doubled his weight in weeks and I was so happy. Though I wasn't really sure how to wean him off the nipple shield and decided to go to another Lactation Consultant that my friend used. She was wonderful and showed me how to properly hold him and latch him. After that he latched without the shield! Their help was invaluable though at the time it seemed costly.

After a three month maternity leave I went back to work and expressed milk every 2-3 hours. At first I had an over abundance of milk so I froze my extra. But when Ethan turned six months old things got more stressful at work and my supply started to dwindle. My company at the time did away with the privacy room and I worked in a cubicle. I refused to pump in the bathroom so I talked my manager into letting me work from home part-time so that I could feed him directly. In the afternoon my mom thawed the frozen milk I had stashed. When he turned twelve months old I went back into the office full time and nursed him once a day when I came home from work. At fifteen months he naturally weened.

I should mention that all large companies are now required to provide a location that is not a bathroom for a nursing mother. It is part of the Healthcare Reform Act. This became a law when my son was about eight months old and my HR department sent me an email letting me know that a storage closet was the new privacy room. I should also mention that much of the stress I had was due to the fact that I did not have a proper place to express the milk and I had escalated to many executives with no change until a law was passed. I fought hard for what I believed!

It was a struggle, but the bonding experience was unlike any other. I loved the quiet time I had with him; holding him and providing for him. My goal was to make it twelve months and I was happy to surpass that. I felt accomplished!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Breastfeeding Obstacles: It’s Not a Fire Hydrant, It’s My Boob

My first child was a slow eater. For his first three months, he liked to chill out on the Boppy, sucking on the boob for a good 45 minutes. I kept him on a strict three hour schedule to ensure I would have bathroom breaks in my Netflix Gossip Girl marathons. Then suddenly around three months he started eating in 15 minutes! What I didn’t know at the time is it wasn’t him. It was me. As your body becomes more efficient (starts to mistake itself for a dairy cow?) the milk flows faster.

Enter my second child, who never stood a chance. My boobs were primed and ready to go. There he was, a slight little six pounder, scrawny as can be and every time he tried to eat he was subjected to a jet stream of milk. After a few seconds he would pull off, choking and coughing, and my milk would go shooting across the room. Or it would spray him in the face. We went on like this for weeks. Every night putting him to bed was a two hour saga, because trying to eat that fast gave him terrible gas. I would spend so long burping him that he’d be wide awake again. Then he was overtired so I would try to nurse him more, and the whole cursed process would start over again.

If you have this problem, all I can tell you is it does get better (around 6-8 weeks things improved, and by three months he was pretty much golden). There were also some things I did that much improved our situation. I fed him a bottle at bedtime, which was no extra trouble for me, because he goes to bed at 7:00 and I like to pump before my bedtime anyway. The rest of the day, and at night, I reclined to feed him. It’s actually possible to do this out and about too, I would have him straddle one of my legs and eat upright and I would lean back against a chair to semi-recline. And if you have fire hose boobs, don’t lie down to feed your newborn. It’s tempting, so tempting. But then they fall asleep. You start to fall asleep. And he would wake up with the WORST case of gas. Now at 4 months I’m finally able to do this without regretting it for the next two hours! Things are great! Until he gets teeth…


Friday, August 1, 2014

World Breastfeeding Week 2014 Kick Off

Every year from August 1st through August 7th the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action coordinates a World Breastfeeding Week to promote the importance of Breastfeeding. This year the theme is "BREASTFEEDING: A Winning Goal - For Life" and is geared toward asserting the importance of increasing and sustaining the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding. The goals theme and goals this year are aligned with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were set by countries and the United Nations as goals for 2015 and beyond.
The objectives of World Breastfeeding Week for 2014 include:
1. To inform people about the MGDs and how they relate to breastfeeding and Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF)
2. To showcase the progress made so far and the key gaps in improving breastfeeding and IYCF
3. To call attention to the importance of stepping up actions to protect, promote and support breastfeeding as a key intervention in the MGDs
4. To stimulate interest in young people of both genders to see the relevance of breastfeeding in today's changing world.
I am excited that to celebrate and promote World Breastfeeding Week 2014 through the sharing of personal stories by friends, family and Naturally Crafty Mom blog followers about their personal stories of overcoming Breastfeeding Obstacles.  I feel fortunate that these women and moms have taken the time out of their busy schedules to share their experience so that other mom's can learn, empathize and know that they too can overcome these obstacles.  As nursing mothers it is our duty to support other nursing or prospective nursing mothers for breastfeeding success!
Check back here every day through the 7th for new personal stories, each story will have their own post and I will update this post daily with links to all of the published stories.  I hope you enjoy all of the personal stories as much as I have and can identify with them or use them to help others who may be experiencing the same thing.

Published Stories:

It's Not a Fire Hydrant, It's My Boob
The Working Mother
Keep Calm and Breastfeed On
The Quest Continues
Not All Obstacles are Physical

post signature