November 12, 2009
This photo, “Migrant Mother,” was taken in California in 1936. As the child of a father who migrated from Kansas to California in 1940, I’m always touched by the stories of the poor migrants, so many of whom sought to escape the Dust Bowl. Some of them were able to start a new life in California. After some time in a migrant camp and working as plum pickers, my father’s family belonged to these lucky ones. Others weren’t quite so fortunate, as John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath so poignantly portrays.
But what this particular photo stirs in me is the amazement that even in hardship, life simply must go on.
Thanks to The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog for posting this photo from Wikimedia Commons.
October 13, 2009
Infant growth charts can be a massive source of anxiety for new parents. Your baby is measured and weighed and compared to standardized curves that tell you how big your baby should be. Actually, that’s not what they do, but that’s how it often feels for a parent, and if your baby falls into the lower percentiles, it’s so easy to panic, even if your baby is totally normal for his/her age.
A nursing mom’s milk supply can also be a huge source of anxiety. A lot of women only breastfeed a few weeks, and there’s definitely a lack of readily available information about how your milk and your breasts change if you continue to nurse for 3, 6, 12 months, never mind if you nurse for years. The information is out there, but you have to look for it.
That’s what this post is about: infant growth charts and milk supply.
The background: last week, one of my best friends wrote me an email. Her first child is roughly 4 1/2 months old, and at her last well-baby check-up, registered in the 20th percentile for weight. My friend was concerned, wondered whether her milk supply might be dwindling, and she asked me for my thoughts. I sat down and wrote her a loooooong email (I had a lot of thoughts on the subject!), and I thought I’d share it with you, too. Of course I’ve taken out personal details regarding my friend and her baby.
Here were my first 2 pieces of advice:
1. First of all, Don’t Panic! Your milk supply hasn’t disappeared. If it has diminished, there are plenty of ways to increase it. And most important of all: 20th percentile is still normal. It just means that 20% of normal babies are at about that weight. And baby’s being at the 20th percentile for weight at her age doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with your milk supply.
2. An extension of Don’t Panic! is that this is not a reason to supplement with formula. Don’t do it. Your milk supply really would drop if you did.
April 20, 2009
Welcome to the Motherwear Carnival of Breastfeeding!
Not long ago, I shared my tips for surviving a cold or flu as a breastfeeding mom. Today I want to talk about what to do if you’re healthy, but your nursing baby or toddler is sick. My advice is based on my own experience and is really focused on managing daily life while caring for your sick nursling. Ask your pediatrician about what your child needs during his or her specific illness, and if you are unsure about anything, talk to your child’s doctor first!
1. Nurse, nurse, nurse! This is the single most helpful thing you can do. Your breastmilk is a complete food, providing not only the most important nutrients, but also unique immune factors that will help your nursling fight his illness better than any other food or supplement you could imagine. Any time you are exposed to an illness, your immune system produces antibodies to fight the infection. These antibodies are passed on to your baby through your milk, making it one of nature’s most clever protective mechanisms for little people whose immune systems are not yet mature. In fact, when a baby or toddler is sick, breastmilk is often the only thing he will willingly eat/drink and the only thing he is able to keep down. So try not to limit your child’s time at the breast. Be aware that your older baby may give up solid foods for a while and may not return to previous eating habits for a while, even after he is healthy again. If you have recently begun weaning, go back to allowing your child to nurse on demand until the infection has cleared up. You can always return to the weaning process later. Right now, helping baby get well has priority. Depending on what kind of infection baby has, you may want to modify the frequency and/or length of feedings. This overview by kellymom should give you a good idea of what to do.
2. Revive your comfy nursing spot. If your baby is younger, you probably have a nursing station all set up. If your baby is Read the rest of this entry »
February 26, 2009
Breastfeeding moms are always concerned about what goes in their bodies, since a lot of it goes into their milk. This is why you should limit your alcohol intake while breastfeeding and make sure you inform yourself about whether any medications you take are safe for breastfeeding.* Recent studies have shown that a lot of moms are worried about environmental toxins that may make their way into their breastmilk, and hence, their babies. The studies also show that quite a few moms would switch to formula if they knew that certain toxins were present in their milk. While I can completely understand this decision, I believe it’s usually not necessary and based on incomplete information. The biggest argument NOT to switch to formula: there are environmental toxins in formula, too! Not to mention in the water you use to mix it! Tanya at the Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog outlines the facts and misconceptions regarding environmental toxins in breastmilk. I strongly encourage you to read it if you or someone you know is breastfeeding, contemplating switching to formula, or trying to make the decision whether to breastfeed or not.
* Obviously, first and foremost, ask your doctor about any of your medications, but I also suggest you do a little research yourself because many health care practitioners aren’t aware of the most recent information on medications and breastmilk. LactMed is one great resource to do some of your own fact-checking.
February 18, 2009
‘Doh! Only two days after posting about being frugal while nursing, I checked out Motherwear’s new spring line, and it’ll be awfully hard to resist temptation this season. My hands-down favorite is this short-sleeved top. It’s simple while incorporating some delicate embroidery details. It’s totally versatile – I could see wearing it with jeans, yoga pants, or a sleek pencil skirt – and it’s got empire nursing openings, which are definitely the most convenient. My only complaint is that it’s only available in 2 colors!