Monday, May 24, 2010

Road Trip while Exclusively Pumping

Nursing instead of pumping sure would have made my packing list for the trip we're about to take a lot shorter.  The downside of pumping has always been a lot of part hauling and washing, but on the road will be even more of a pain.  Not to mention all the milk handling questions. (Will it stay fresh in a cooler? Is using someone else's fridge for breast milk kosher?)  I had to make a spreadsheet to track all of the stuff!  Here's just  the "baby" portion of the list.  Am I going overboard?

booster seat
blankie & stuffed elephant
detergent for washing diapers
big ziploc for dirties
trash bags for dirties
fuzzibunz diapers
disposable diapers
diaper liners
onesies, pants, jammies, socks, sweatshirts
blankets (fleece & swaddle)
baby wash
baby outfit to wear to the wedding
travel crib
sheets for travel crib (2x)
baby bjorn
backpack carrier
baby tylenol
nail clipper
Parts,bottles & ziplocs
milk storage bags
wee cooler for breast milk
bottle brush
dish detergent
kitchen towels for part washing
plastic bins for part washing
bottles, nipples, & plastic inserts
ice packs and cooler
fresh fruit
fruit cups/applesauce
water bottles & cups
utensils incl sharp knife for fruit
paper towels

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mechanics of breastfeeding

New ultrasound video (above) shows that infants create a vacuum to suck our the milk rather than pressing or squeezing the milk out.  It also may show why breastfeeding is so painful for some women, like me.  "They're strong suckers," said Donna Geddes, Research Assistant Professor, School of Biomedical, Biomolecular and Chemical Sciences.  Some babies also crunch too hard on the nipple. This information could lead to design of new aids to help new moms with this problem.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


The second biggest reason moms choose to formula-feed is not being able to tell if the baby is getting enough milk, according to the same article (Arora, 2000) that cited fathers' feelings as the biggest reason (see February's post on Dads).  "Mothers should be educated about assessing the adequacy of milk supply by listening for an audible swallow, noting urine production by the number of diapers changed per day, and by recording weight gain at well-child visits."  Easy enough?  Not really, even if you're informed.

Imagine: you are in your first week of trying to breastfeed your new baby. Of course, you can't see the milk, and you have yet to learn your baby's feeding cues. Your newborn, like many, is very sleepy, and often falls asleep at the breast, leaving you wondering whether he is full or just got tired of trying to extract nonexistent milk.  You are counting pee diapers; but premium diapers feel so dry--does that really count as a pee?  He screams for food 45 minutes after a feeding, causing you to question whether he got enough at the last feeding.   At his well-baby visit, he comes in at the 30th percentile for weight (based on averages of both breastfed AND formula-fed babies).  The pediatrician says it's fine, but you are definitely concerned now that he isn't getting enough milk.  In a moment of panic, you feed him some formula.  The formula brings you a sense of relief because now you are certain your baby is getting the calories he needs.  It's comforting to view and measure the feeds.  Formula supplementing becomes part of your routine.  Meanwhile, your body is adjusting its supply to the milk demanded by the baby.  Since the baby, sated by formula, demands less, your body makes less.  Concerned still, you supplement a little more.  Eventually, it begins to feel like nursing is just for comfort, and maybe, you stop.

It's a vicious cycle.  And maybe you never had a supply problem at all!  It is easy to understand how this can happen, given how powerful the need is for a new mother to nourish her baby.   Of course, supply problems can be and are real in many cases, but the treatment for low supply is more nursing, not less.  In yet another situation, the combo of support and information is the key: knowing the signs of a well-fed baby AND having someone there to coach you along saying, "He's eating well, and you're doing great."

Arora, S.; McJunkin, C.; Wehrer, J.; Kuhn, P. “Major Factors Influencing Breastfeeding Rates: Mother’s Perception of Father’s Attitude and Milk Supply.” From the Family Medicine Department and the Research Center, Hamot Medical Center, Erie, Pennsylvania. 2000.