breastfeeding

MAMA SERIES & TIPS TO HELP WITH MASTITIS


BREAST ISSUES AFTER BIRTH


Erin’s story

The first time I got a clogged duct was 2-3 weeks after having Peyton.  I don't remember it extremely well, I just remember feeling a hard lump in my right breast, trying to feed Peyton a little more that day, and thinking it had resolved itself when the discomfort went away.  I was wrong. 

  I had briefly heard about mastitis from one of my best friends, who had a sister that had ended up getting it with each of her 3 kids, but I didn't think it was something I would have to deal with.  Well, that clogged duct I thought I had taken care of quickly turned in to mastitis by the next evening, and that part I do remember well.  I remember leaning over P's bassinet crying, and my husband (Jordan) coming out of the bathroom freaked out that it was postpartum depression, when in reality I couldn't remember ever feeling so terrible.  It was like the worst flu ever, but without the head cold symptoms.  My whole body ached, I had a fever, and worst of all I had a giant red triangle on my breast that was radiating heat.  I called the on-call doctor, and was seen the next day by my hospitals lactation group.  I definitely had mastitis, and little did I know this would be the first of many visits to lactation specialists and doctors for mastitis, engorgement and clogged ducts.  The first time I got mastitis they gave me clindamycin (I'm allergic to amoxicillin) and it cleared up within about 24 hours. 

  I thought if I made a conscious effort to nurse diligently I wouldn't have any more issues with clogged ducts, but at this point I hadn't started pumping.  Well at 5 weeks I got mastitis again in the other breast.  I knew how to recognize the signs/symptoms so I called the doctor right away, they called in a prescription for me since I was heading to Hawaii for 5 days, and I assumed that I would have the same experience as the first time and it would clear up quickly.  It's also worth mentioning that my left breast was extremely engorged.  I'm talking the size of a melon, while the other one was closer to an apple.  I managed through the pain and awkwardness of having quasimodo boobs while in a place where I was planning to live in bathing suits most of the day, but the after I returned I knew something was wrong. 

  I had been out shopping with my mom and noticed the pain in my breast starting to radiate to my arm.  It was afternoon so I figured I would go home, call the doctor, and have Jordan go in with me after work rather than just telling my mom something was wrong and asking her to go with me (I'm stubborn).  By the time I got home I was in tears, I couldn't lift my left arm and could barely carry P inside.  I called Jordan in tears to come home right away and drive me to the lactation specialist at the hospital who had gotten me in for an emergency appointment.  Once we got there I broke down in tears before I could even tell the specialist what was wrong.  After a quick exam she transferred me to the ER, who transferred me to the Labor unit where my regular OB-Gyn was working a shift. 

  I ended up being checked in to the hospital for 2 nights.  They did an ultrasound of my breast to make sure I didn't have an abscess, and I ended up having to be given 3 IV's of antibiotics.  The first antibiotic I was on no longer was working, so the second 2 doses were Bactrim, a heavy duty antibiotic used to treat MRSA.

  After being released from the hospital I started looking more seriously in to how to treat clogged ducts and engorgement, and avoid another bought with mastitis.  I thankfully found an amazing local lactation consultant (Lotus Lactation for any Portland, OR based moms!).  These are the treatments that worked for me as I battled multiple additional clogged ducts over the 18 months I breast-fed my daughter


Treatment of Clogged Ducts

  • Adjust Position : Depending on where the clogged duct is located on your breast, changing the position of breast feeding can help your baby drain the milk from that area. 

  • Pump :  Clogged ducts develop when your baby doesn't fully drain the milk in the ducts.  We discovered that I had a pretty significant oversupply of milk, so while Peyton and I got in to a routine of feeding and pumping those first few months I had to pump nearly every 2 hours to ensure my ducts remained clear.  I was slowly able to spread out the time  little by little, but at the first sign of a clog my BFF the pump was pretty much attached to my side. 

  • Hot Shower & Hand Expression : The hot water, especially on a shower head with a massage setting, can help to loosen up a clog in conjunction with hand expression.  I'm not an expert but I think of this similar to a way that pores on your face react to steam. 

  • Hot Towels :  These were a life saver for me.  Jordan was an angel any time I had an inkling of a clog, and would bring me hot towels (soaked in water and microwaved) in the middle of the night to use before and after nursing and while pumping after nursing.  For some reason these worked wonders in helping to quickly address clogs. 

  • Lecithin : This is a natural supplement that was recommended to me by my lactation consultant.  The simplified reason to use this is that it can affect the fats in your milk and makes it less sticky 

  • Wear Soft Bras : I found that any time I tried to wear a more structured nursing bra or one with underwire I triggered clogged ducts.  I ended up wearing the soft medela nursing bras for most of the 18 months I spent breast feeding. 

I'm not a health professional so my advice definitely should not take the place of talking to your doctor, but if you experience signs of mastitis definitely call your doctor! 


Other Resources

  • KellyMom.com : provides a ton of great articles and resources from professionals

Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions for me or want to know more about my experience.  I'm happy to share and hope that some of the things that helped me will help someone else avoid some of the experiences I went through.

MOLLY’S STORY

Breastfeeding wasn’t a question for me. I thought Fritz and my boobs would be BFF’s.  I was fully committed it to do it for as long as my body and sanity would allow. But you know how plans go, just the opposite of what you would expect. 


Fritz was in the special care nursery at Mayo Clinic and I pumped exclusively, during those days. He wouldn’t latch and was hooked up to monitors. If I wanted to hold him I had to buzz in a nurse to remove him from his bassinet.  I tried and failed to breastfeed him. I wanted my baby to eat, so he was given a high flow nipple. Every time I attempted to feed Fritz he became agitated that my let down wasn’t instant. I didn’t want to give up on breastfeeding, so I met with a fantastic lactation consultant. This is a service that Mayo Clinic offers for free to new mothers and my husband and I learned so much. We practiced feeding Fritz at my breast and with a nipple shield, he had zero interest. It was apparent that I would be exclusively pumping to feed Fritz, we would make it work!

Pumping was going really well for me. My production after two weeks was over abundant, and I already had a great supply frozen. However, the grass isn’t always greener, overproducing can be a burden. My breasts hurt, they were engorged and no matter how much I pumped I always felt full. I have a large chest to begin with and physically I was entering a territory of bust size that was inconceivably huge and made me so self-conscious.


I was producing between 60 and 100 ounces a day and my breasts weren’t emptying, with the help of my LC we decided I needed to drop two pumps. She warned me about Mastitis because I would be pumping less often, so the buildup of milk could cause me some discomfort. It was important to express my breasts manually if they felt too full and monitor how I felt.  Mastitis was something I had heard of before, but I didn’t realize how severe it could be. I didn’t really understand how sick you could get. We talked through the warning signs: a temperature, chills, flu-like symptoms, body aches and pink breast that felt warm to the touch. I left the meeting feeling confident that I could make feeding my baby this way work and maybe even enjoy it. 


Spoiler alert: 48 hours later I thought I was dying. I do have a flair for the dramatic, but this was a kind of sick I had never been before. Picture it: a first-time mother, helpless, a 104-degree fever, attached to her breast pump, under four down comforters, all while sobbing. I had chills, I was sweating, I was emotional and honestly didn’t know how I could get through it. They leave this out in perinatal class. I felt broken and was heartbroken for my child. 


Thankfully Mayo has a protocol where you can send in your symptoms to the lactation consultant and they can get antibiotics to you right away. It took me four days to get back on my feet. I couldn’t care for my baby (my mother in law did everything for me), I couldn’t eat and only got out of bed to take a scalding hot shower, change out of the sweat-soaked clothes or pump. I also cried, all the time. I would go downstairs to look at my sweet newborn in his dock-a-tot, but it hurt to hold him. The tears didn’t stop. 


My sweet friends texted, and I told them all, “I WOULD RATHER GO THROUGH LABOR AGAIN.” To this day, I still would. 


Getting sick, while being a new mom brought me to my knees, but oh my goodness, it taught me to never take my health for granted. 


Here is what helped me get through the dark days of Mastitis: 


  • Use a warm compress. This opens up any clogged ducts. I picked up gels that could go in the microwave and they were a lifesaver. 

  • My lactation consultant also recommended not wearing any restrictive clothing. I was changing my shirt every few hours from sweating through it, so leaking didn’t matter.

  • This tip was barbaric but really helped me break down the lumps I had in my breasts due to clogged ducts. Take a scalding hot shower with your new best friend – a wide tooth comb. Lather your breasts with soap for lubrication and run the comb vertically from top to bottom, applying moderate pressure. 

  • When I had the energy, I would also take Epsom salt baths to submerge in the hot water and massage where the ducts felt clogged. 

  • If you are breastfeeding – FEED! If you are pumping – PUMP! This was the hardest part for me. Taking a shower felt like a marathon, but I was determined to get better and also didn’t want my supply to dip.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I was so lucky to have my MIL staying with us.

  • Sleep. Your body needs rest. Your baby won’t remember you being sick for those few days. As heartbreaking as it feels, just rest. The more you do, the faster you can get back to baby and being the amazing mother you are!

A MOTHERS JOURNEY FACING A RARE BREASTFEEDING CONDITION


MRS. NIPPLE SPOTLIGHT SERIES ARTICLE 4 X JESS HOHMAN


mrs. nipple

Many times being a new mother can feel isolating. There are certain situations you might find yourself in and not know if what you are experiencing is normal. I hope the story below will shed some light around DMER, Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex. I had never heard of the condition and now feel like I would be able to identify the condition if I had a friend going through this. The more educated we all are around certain postpartum conditions the more likely we will be able to be a resource for other moms. We all need to look out for each other, during this fragile time. So read on.


jess hohman will take it from here.

DMER - That Millennial Momma.jpg

Breastfeeding has always been a hard subject for me. 

Let me start from the beginning – the birth of my first son, Brooks. 

During pregnancy and after delivery, breastfeeding exclusively was the plan.  I was fine with deviations from that plan. In my mind, fed is best. 

I was ecstatic that Brooks took to nursing like a pro.  While nursing him in the hospital, I noticed that I would get nauseous every time that I fed Brooks.  I suspected it was the pain meds or other side effects after having an unplanned C-section, so I let it go. 

To my displeasure, the feeling continued after we settled in at home.  In addition to the nausea, I started having intense emotional reactions when breastfeeding.  Not in the soothing, basking in the sunlight rocking your precious newborn way.  Rather, I felt terrible unhappiness and irritability, but only when breastfeeding.

For the 30-45 minutes that Brooks nursed I was unpleasant to be around.  I snapped at anyone who came into the room or dared to speak to me.  It became known that if I was nursing, I was in my room alone to save everyone the pain of being around the monster that I became.  And then, once Brooks was done eating, I morphed back into my normal, albeit tired, self.

I had brought up the nausea with my OBGYN, which had been a nonissue to them.  I figured this new emotional development would be the same, so I toughened up and powered through…for months. 

Once I made it to 6 months nursing my son, which was the goal that I had set for myself, I decided to wean and introduce formula.  I was thrilled.  I had associated this insurmountable heaviness with nursing, and that feeling was almost gone. 

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We successfully weaned, and I didn’t think about it again until I got pregnant with my second son when Brooks was just 9 months old.  After another relatively uneventful pregnancy, breastfeeding was the goal again.  The anticipation of sitting in that darkness for months nursing haunted me.

This time around, my second son, Vance, struggled to nurse a little, eventually figuring it out on his own within a few days.  Once again that gloom came every time I popped Vance on my chest for a meal.

I dreaded nursing.  I dreaded working through the negativity. I dreaded holding my perfect newborn and feeling anything but pure glee.  I felt a terrible guilt associated with my fleeting mental state while nursing.  Why could I not feel the way I was “supposed” to feel when I was given the gift of a healthy baby and a body physically capable of feeding him? 

One morning 3 months later when I was skimming Instagram stories, I heard someone mention D-MER.  A blogger was discussing her breastfeeding triumphs and failures, and mentioned that she knows that there are some women who feel intense negative emotions when their milk lets down.  Her message was that breastfeeding shouldn’t be something that you dread, hate, or that makes you feel any less than.

My ears perked up.  She was talking about me.  Breastfeeding had made me feel less than the perfect mother.  During each feeding, I was filled with an irritation that would later fill me with guilt. 

After some power-googling that morning, I discovered that D-MER stood for Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex.  It is an anomaly that affects a very small percentage of breastfeeding mothers with irregular dopamine activity.  This means that this condition is 100% hormonal.  It is neither a mental illness nor any sort of psychological issue. 

I should have talked to my doctor once these symptoms became the norm.  However, there is such stigma associated with any sort of mental manifestations that I was instantly shameful.  I had already begun to wean Vance because I felt hopeless.  I knew that having a happy momma was more important than having an exclusively breastfed child.  It devastated me though – I  (irrationally) felt like I was starting Vance out in the world with an instant disadvantage. 

I learned from my research that this stigma is a large part of why D-MER is not well known even amongst medical professionals.  Women are ashamed to speak up about unpleasant things in general, too often opting to appear polite and quiet.

In addition to stigma, every sign in the hospital, OBGYN, and pediatrician’s offices clearly delineate the benefits of breastfeeding for mother and child – decreased risk of certain cancers for mother and decreased risk of allergies and future infections for baby, and passing along antibodies made specifically for your child.  What kind of selfish person wouldn’t want to give all that to their child when they are physically able?

I felt an overwhelming guilt.  I was so lucky to be able to produce milk efficiently and to have a child who was a good eater.  With all that being the case, in my mind I should nurse regardless of the mental toll it takes on me.  I should have been strong enough to overcome my side effects in favor of feeding my children. 

In reality, I should do what is best for my family as a whole.  I am not an island alone whose needs are disregarded now that there are more mouths to feed.  I now realize that my well-being contributes to the wellness of the family.  And that is something that is not on signs in the hospital. 

I hope that this admission of D-MER and all the nasty symptoms that come along with it encourages others to talk to their doctor’s openly.  Bring this, or any other condition that makes your well being take a backseat, to your doctor’s attention.  Once more people come forward; there will be a stronger justification for research into this condition. 

And finally, to the mom struggling through D-MER:

You are doing your best – trying to breastfeed your child and give him the milk that your body perfectly made for him. But if you are feeling depressed, angry, anxious, or generally unhappy ONLY when you’re nursing him, don’t overwhelm yourself by ignoring those warning signs.

Speak to a doctor, and develop a plan for your family.  If that means medicine, good!  If that means weaning, good!  Prioritize yourself so that you are capable of giving that beautiful child all he needs.

This is your journey, and it is beautiful no matter what. I know you’re trying your best, and so does that sweet baby staring up at you.


some more information around DMER

“Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex, or DMER, is a condition marked by an abnormal chemical and hormonal reaction that causes a brief but abrupt emotional response at milk letdown. “It seems to be a small chemical reaction that causes a huge emotional reaction,” Alia Macrina Heise, anInternational Board Certified Lactation Consultant in Naples, New York, who pioneered research on the condition.

For milk letdown to occur, the hormone dopamine — which controls the secretion of the hormone prolactin — must fall so levels of prolactin can rise. Yet for mothers with DMER, a chemical imbalance or dysfunction of dopamine prevents that from happening.

Symptoms of DMER vary, but they typically include anxiety, irritability and sadness.  Some women may even have suicidal ideations. “This is like being zapped by a dark cloud — it can be very overwhelming and scary,” Diana West, an internationally board-certified lactation consultant and director of media relations for La Leche League.” FN


BREASTFEEDING WITH INVERTED NIPPLES


THE MRS.NIPPLE SERIES X VOL. 1 RUBY


Kicking off the Mrs. Nipple new series with our first article coming from Ruby @Rubixcube17 with her experience around breastfeeding with inverted nipples. I really love this piece and hope it spreads awareness. 

Enjoy!

Xx 

Mrs. Nipple 

Ruby will take it from here:

It's not something that's spoken about often, to be honest I didn't even know it was an existing issue until I realized I in fact owned a pair of breasts with flat/Inverted nipples. Let me start at the beginning. When I found out I was expecting I was over the moon, and immediately started reading all the "what to expect" books. I wanted to be prepared, and succeed in things important to me, the main one being Breastfeeding. I knew it was going to be hard, I was prepared for the sleepless nights and long feedings, but I had also read countless times it was natural act between mother and baby and of course, breast is best. I was determined, I was ready - I was not prepared to be let down by my own body. My breast feeding journey only lasted 4 weeks, and was full of challenges. Cracked nipples, multiple bouts of Mastitis, undiagnosed lip and tongue ties, small baby who struggled to latch and put on weight and finally, one flat nipple and one inverted nipple. Believe it or not, I didn't even know until I had already given up Breastfeeding. How did this happen you ask? It's because NO-BODY speaks about  this affliction! A flat nipple is where you have no protruding nipple from the areole and an inverted nipple is where it is pulled in towards itself- basically the baby has nothing to grasp on to.

 

I had noticed during my life my nipples never seemed to "stand out" as I had noticed other women's do so through their tops, but to me this was a good thing, convenient even as I could go bra-less in outfits no worries- never did I think I would see the day I was jealous of how much a women's nipple would protrude. 

Our first feed after my daughter was born she wouldn't latch, and when she did it was hurting like hell. The midwives weren't worried and told me she would get it. Next 3 feedings I had to be hand expressed for colostrum as my daughter still wasn't latching, and even then the midwives did not mention that anything was amiss with my breasts. I persevered an eventually got her latching, despite how much it hurt I was determined. 12 hours later I already had 2 cracked nipples, by 3 days old I was already at the GP for mastitis, then a lactation consultant. It was here I was introduced to nipple shields. These are basically very thin pieces of silicone that suction your nipple in and created more of a shape for your baby to latch onto.

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I later learnt (too late) nipple shields are a great tool for people with flat/inverted nipples however they were given to me to give relief from the cracks. Again, nothing mentioned about my breasts, I was oblivious. They put the mastitis down to my daughters shallow latch (again, due to undiagnosed lip ties, these two problems made breastfeeding next to impossible) and told me she would learn to latch with the shields, and then I would need to wean as they were only a short term solution.

And so we entered 4 weeks of where I would use the shield, my breasts would drain, my daughter would feed and the mastitis would go. I would try and wean the Shields as advised, and 3 days later mastitis would return. The reason for this was because my daughter had nothing to grip on to she would either be clamping down with a very shallow latch, causing the ducts to block, or she would consistently fall off and get tired, not draining the breast.  It was hell, I was depressed, stressed, frustrated, my baby wasn't gaining weight, my nipples were bleeding and damaged, and worst of all I was not enjoying the newborn stage and slowly resenting my daughter every time she wanted to feed. Enough was enough, at her 4 week check she was a mere 26 grams (0.9oz) above her birthweight, I had had mastitis 5 times, and I finally made the decision to formula feed. I had attempted pumping to see if I could pump exclusively and my body just doesn't respond to pumps, I felt I had no choice and something had to give.  

My daughter thrived on formula, she gained weight, I started to enjoy her. I went to my 6 week post partum check and was asked about BF. I explained what had happened and the Gp examined me and said "I'm not surprised you had challenges with your flat and inverted nipple". I was gobsmacked. I asked what that meant. He explained and showed me pictures and it all started to make sense. I was so upset and felt so let down by the professionally trained lactation consultants, He was also shocked it hadn't been mentioned to me.  It was also here my daughters lip ties were found. Two separate issues that, had they been diagnosed, we might've had a successful breastfeeding journey. 

My daughter is now 18 weeks old and I still have many regrets about the whole experience. After doing research I have found videos with techniques on how to BF with flat and inverted nipples, information that says continued use of nipple shields are sometimes needed in cases of flat/inverted nipples, and have looked into private lactation consultants who can specialise in this area.  I would hate for anyone to go through what I went through, ASK for help, push for answers, check your nipples and ask the questions!  I hope to try again with a second baby when the time comes, and I will be armed with the knowledge this time to hopefully succeed. It is POSSIBLE to breastfeed with flat and inverted nipples, however it is more challenging and you will need help and support. Good luck ladies, breastfeeding is the hardest thing I have ever done and we deserve all the support and help we can get!

 

Thanks,

Ruby (Rubixcube17) 

Willow Pump Review....Too good to be true?


Mrs. Nipple's honest review of the Willow Pump


Too good to be true?

I'm writing this blog post while pumping in a coffee shop. Yup, you heard me correctly. I'm writing this blog post while pumping in a coffee shop. From the moment I announced I was trying out the Willow Pump, the DMs came streaming in. So many mamas out there were just as intrigued with this new pump, which seems to be first in class in the hands free "discrete" category. I received so many questions about the Willow Pump. Is it really actually quiet? Will I be able to attend a business meeting while wearing it? Can I get things done around the house while pumping? The number one question being, is it worth the money? It's like that unicorn...you've heard of it but you've never actually seen it...so does it actually exist? 

First I'll start with the set up...

This pump is simple to put together. It's just a few pieces, a quick charge, downloading the Willow app and you are ready! I also recommend watching the educational videos so you know exactly what you are doing. Then like anything else it takes a little practice. 

Learning curve

Willow advises that you pump at least 7 times within the first 7 days. That's because with Willow, it does take a little time to master it. It is not your average pump. Willow offers the option of a coaching call to help you during those first few days. I highly recommend jumping on this call. I think those that like the Willow don't mind putting in the extra effort upfront to then get the benefits of using the Willow vs. your traditional pump. A few things to focus on during this time is mastering placement of the pump on your breast, emptying the remainder of the milk from the pump into the bag, and changing bags mid-pump. I picked these because these were the three areas that took a little time mastering for me personally. You really have to get your nipple lined up correctly. With this pump, you can not see where your nipple sits while pumping like you can with the traditional pumps. The bags are also different than your traditional bags. You have to get a good seal (with proper alignment!) to prevent air from filling the bags and you also need to turn the pump a particular way to prevent leakage of your liquid gold after you pump. The customer service was great and having a coach to walk you through these areas was super helpful. It still takes practice to get these new skills down, but the benefits of the pump can be worth it to some.

Parts and way less of them

One of the things I hate most about another pump I’ve used and most traditional pumps is the amount of parts: the bottle, the flange, the plastic piece that goes on the outside of the back of the flange and the rubber piece that goes on the inside.....times two. Pumping on the go is not easy for a number of reasons and one reason is this...so many parts! Willow clearly has the traditional pumps beat here. There are 3 pieces plus the bag, but when you're done pumping you just take the bag right out, it's presealed. There is no question that it is easier to travel with the Willow vs a traditional pump. You only have to wash 2 parts and they are dishwasher safe. 

Time

I did find I was pumping for longer periods of time with the Willow pump vs. the traditional pump. I think this was due to the fact that the Willow bags only hold 4 oz of milk each. For some this is fine but I like to pump as much as my body will allow when I'm pumping which is over 4 oz. The Willow app alerts you that you reached 4 oz of milk and you have to take the bag out and insert a new bag. I get into a grove while pumping so this kind of messed with that grove a bit. I eventually ended up deciding to stop at 4 oz unless my breasts were engorged. 

 

Is it really silent?

The Willow Pump is definitely quiet but it does make sounds. It makes the most noise in the beginning while it is in the stimulation phase, before switching to expression, but even during that time it is so much quieter than your average pump. Would you be able to hear it in the quiet section of the library? YES!  But not in a coffee shop. 

How discrete is it?

Can you pump while holding your baby, cleaning the house, folding laundry, sitting in the corner of a coffee shop or driving? YES!! Are you going to pump with the Willow while you are walking around town? I doubt it. I wear a 34 B and it look like I have DDD or even bigger....I can't remember what comes after DDD like maybe X or something like that?! Well, then my boobs are XX while wearing the Willow. There's no way you will catch me walking around town looking like this, but it sure does help while driving or cooking dinner. I actually wore them while eating dinner with my parents and it was so nice not having to spend an extra 30 minutes I didn't have to pump with the door closed. It also feels nicer. I often feel like I'm pumping myself as if I am a cow when I use a traditional pump. These slip right into my bra and that's it! 

Cost

There's no question that the Willow is expensive. On top of the price of the pump, the bags will also cost you a pretty penny. That being said I know many mamas will spend the money on a pump that could really fit into their lifestyle. Willow now offers financing, with payments starting at $43/month. You can also use your FSA/HSA funds as well.

Would I recommend the Willow?

I think it really comes down to what your needs are and how motivated you are to learn to really use the Willow correctly. If you occasionally pump and you can usually find time to sit down in a discreet place while  pumping, then this may not be for you. If you are always on the go, have multiple children, can't find a second during the day or constantly traveling and can't always find a discreet area to pump, then the Willow is a wonderful option. It's not perfect. I'm going to say it again, it's not perfect which you will usually find with something so innovative, but because I spend 60 percent of my time in my car because of my job, it's an easy choice that the Willow works with my lifestyle. That being said, if I'm home on a Thursday night and the kids are asleep, I will reach for my traditional pump because it pumps the milk in less time and can hold greater than 4 oz of milk. 

To learn more you can find a link to the Willow Pump website, HERE. 

If you have any specific question please ask them on instagram under comments or send me a DM. 



Mommy Knows Best Lactation Cookies & Mrs. Nipple


Low Milk Supply & Lactation Cookies 


Having a low milk supply can be both stressful and frustrating. When I was pregnant with Charlie,  my supply dropped significantly in the first month. I think it was due to the fact that Charlie did not have a good latch as well as during those first few weeks, I was going too long between night feedings. No matter what I tried, Charlie was impossible to wake up for his night feedings. Some nights I was up for an entire hour just trying to get him to feed. Wet wash cloths, undressing him, changing his diaper...nothing seemed to work.  Waiting these long stretches without feeding effected my milk supply. I finally learned about lactation products. I started eating prepackaged lactation bars. However, they were not practical because of how expensive they were and their short shelf life.

This time around I wanted to be prepared. Before Ford was even born, I discovered Mommy Knows Best Lactation Cookies.

THINGS I LOVE ABOUT MOMMY KNOWS BEST LACTATION COOKIES

  • They are SO DELICIOUS
  • You buy the mix and can make them at home (so easy) 
  • An entire bag of mix is only $20.00 which is significantly less than other lactation products 
  • The ingredients include many herbal galactagogues (a substance that increases milk supply)
  • They are #mrsnippleapproved 

THE GOOD STUFF, GALACTAGOGUES

Mommy Knows Best Lactation Cookie Mix contains a powerful blend of ingredients designed to optimize breast milk production. The combination of Oats, Flax Seed, Brewer's Yeast, and Blessed Thistle Herb, packs a powerful punch when it comes to increasing milk supply. Additionally this cookie mix is a great source of Calcium, and Folic Acid, along with vitamins B6, C, D & A.

OATS are a nutritional powerhouse, providing whole grains, fiber, iron, and an abundance of healthy vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

BLESSED THISTLE is a powerful galactagogue, well known as a common ingredient responsible for milk production.

FLAX SEED provides an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids necessary for baby’s brain development.

BREWERS YEAST is a traditional remedy, rich in B-vitamins and amino acids essential for nursing moms.

  •  MADE WITH BLESSED THISTLE HERB: The only lactation boosting cookie available with blessed thistle herb baked into each cookie to help boost breast milk quickly.
  •  PERFECT COMBINATION OF BREWER'S YEAST, FLAXSEED & OATS: Already measured and mixed for you, these ingredients have been used for generations to aid with breastmilk production and replenish key nutrients mothers need.
  •  EXCELLENT SOURCE OF KEY VITAMINS & MINERALS: Each cookie is jam-packed with healthy amounts of calcium, folic acid, iron, plus vitamins B6, B12, C, D, & A. Enjoy a lactation supplement that you can eat.
  •  TASTY & EFFECTIVE SOLUTION FOR LACTATION SUPPORT: These delicious and convenient lactation cookies are a healthy alternative to lactation tea & bars that can help provide the extra nourishment lactating moms need.
  •  SAFE, CONVENIENT – WON’T UPSET BABY’S SENSITIVE TUMMY: While many lactation tea, lactation bars and breast feeding pill alternatives contain fillers that upset little tummies, this TASTY & EFFECTIVE SOLUTION FOR LACTATION SUPPORT provide all the nourishment, without the common allergens found in many breast milk pill supplement products.

 

MY PLAN

In addition to eating the cookies, here are a few other tips to increase that priceless milk supply for your baby:

  • Never hesitate to contact a certified Lactation Consultant for advice from a professional. 
  • Increase frequency of breastfeeding and/or pumping sessions. 
  • Try pumping for 10 minutes, rest for 10 minutes, for a total of 60 minutes. This can be done a few times a day and will help stimulate milk production. 

You can find the Mommy Knows Best Lactation cookie mix, HERE. 

 

 

THe BIG FAT lie about breastfeeding


Breastfeeding & Weight loss


While reading this post, please keep in mind ALL women are different. Breastfeeding will help many women drop the postpartum weight quickly. However, that was not my experience. That being said, I also want to point out that it might have taken longer to get my post pregnancy body back if I was not breastfeeding. What I do know is that it wasn't until I was done breastfeeding that I dropped the last ten pounds that my body was holding onto.

HERE IS MY STORY... 

After I gave birth to my first son, Charlie, I expected to bounce back to my pre-pregnancy weight in no time at all.  I figured since I had worked out my entire pregnancy and was in great shape, and even more importantly, I was now breastfeeding, those calories should have been burning away!   I've heard it a million times, "Oh, you’re breastfeeding? The weight will melt off."  However,  that was not the case. Though I have friends that were both breastfeeding and eating whatever they wanted with weight melting off their bodies, I am not one of those mamas.

I was shocked that with all my efforts of eating right and excersizing, I was not even dropping the 1 pound a week that I was told I would. I was finding when I would compare my healthy weeks vs. my unhealthy weeks, there was no difference on the scale. 

OVERVIEW OF MY POSTPARTUM BODY WITH BABY #1

Two week check up: My uterus was totally healed and back to its original size which is one of the many benefits of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding releases hormones that trigger your uterus to heal quickly and return to its pre-baby size which is the size of a pear. I got the all clear and was able to start working out. My body heals very fast since the average time for this is around 6 weeks. My first question to the doctor was, "Well, if my uterus is back to its original size, then what's this?", pointing  to my stomach. He answered,  “You can only get rid of that with exercise."

Five weeks: I started working out and eating healthy but nothing was excelerating my weight loss. I was dropping a few pounds here and there but still felt like I was wearing a coat of extra fat. 

Five months: At the 5 month mark, I felt like myself again. I still had not dropped all of my weight since I was holding onto the last 6-10 pounds, but I felt like that coat of extra fat feeling had faded. 

14 months: Interesting enough, I didn't drop that last few pounds until I stopped breastfeeding which was at 14 months. During this time, I was pregnant with my second baby and  still breastfeeding Charlie. Even though I was in my first trimester, I still dropped those pesky pounds. 

I was so confused. I was told all these years that breastfeeding would help me drop weight but in fact it was the exact thing that was preventing me from getting my pre pregnancy body back. So I did some research and it completely makes sense.

First, I want to point out I'm a huge supporter of breastfeeding. Having children is one of the most selfless things you will ever do and breastfeeding/pumping is as well. It's time consuming and breastfeeding really limits how much independence you will have for that first year. However, the benefits for both you and your baby  are endless and well worth it. Some extra weight for some mamas during that first year really sucks, but your baby will benefit from your milk supply for the rest of their life. 

WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? 

"Breastfeeding Does Burn Calories, but….

If you’re a breastfeeding mom, you’ve probably heard that nursing will burn 500 calories a day. This is surely the reason the experts tell us that breastfeeding will help us lose the baby weight, that’s like a killer workout!

However, so many other factors that come into play when discussing ANYONE’S metabolism, but especially a woman during her postpartum period. Including:

  • Lack of Sleep: A decrease in sleep, typical of just about every new mom, can cause metabolism to slow by causing a hormonal change that can interfere with your hunger signals, causing you to eat more than you actually need.
  • Less Activity, More Eating: In the first few months postpartum, most moms are sitting with baby more and may have less time for regular activity while they adjust to a new routine (even if they’re working out). In addition, the increase in energy needs for milk production can make you feel ravenous, causing you to eat more than normal, and possibly more than needed.
  • Not Enough Eating: Some moms are so busy and overwhelmed in the first months of their baby’s life or mistakenly think they need to cut calories severely to lose weight and don’t eat nearly enough, which can cause the body to believe there is famine and actually store fat as an energy reserve.
  • Stress: Stress releases cortisol, which slows metabolism, and if you’re also not sleeping much, the cortisol is not being removed from the body at night during restorative sleep. I think we can all agree that even if we are blissfully joyful, most new moms are also highly stressed.

Even with all of these factors at play, studies found that breastfeeding moms tend to start to lose MORE weight around the 4 month mark, and even more when they finally wean. Why is this?

One word: HORMONES

Hormones During Breastfeeding

 

During breastfeeding, hormones are very different than any other time in life. Breastfeeding mothers experience a drop in testosterone and estrogen, which are both fat burning, and an increase in prolactin.

Prolactin is the hormone that causes your body to produce breastmilk (prolactin = pro-lactation). It is elevated during pregnancy, but is kept in check by progesterone and estrogen levels, which both drop right after the baby is born. This allows the effects of prolactin to begin and the milk to come in for the baby. Prolactin levels rise every single time the baby nurses, signaled by nipple stimulation. So what does this have to do with fat loss?

Prolactin hormone is also linked to fat storage. It makes sense that our bodies would put some sort of safeguard into place to protect baby’s milk supply, and it seems that prolactin may be that safety net. Prolactin seems to keep the nursing mother from mobilizing fat stores, so that there is always an energy reserve in case of famine.

Sometime between the 4-6 month postpartum mark, breastfeeding mothers experience a drop in prolactin. Suddenly, metabolism may begin to increase, and studies show that these mothers will generally start to see more fat loss at this point. Again, once the baby weans, within 24 hours prolactin levels drop again, and this might explain why those stubborn final 5-10 pounds suddenly disappear as fat metabolism returns to pre-lactation/pre-pregnancy levels.

Interestingly enough, prolactin also affects sex drive and fertility, usually causing a low libido, and cessation of periods and ovulation. After the sixth month mark, your periods may return and you might be feeling like your old sexual self – this is a sign that your fertility has returned and prolactin has dropped." - fit to be pregnant 

My Thoughts...

There are so many articles written on this topic and many that contradict one another. I was specifically trying to find answers related to my personal experience. This all makes complete sense to me and aligns with my specific situation. I wrote this post for the women out there who are also struggling to lose weight while breastfeeding.  

I am writing this article five weeks postpartum with baby #2 and have a fun 20 pounds to drop to get down to my pre-pregnancy size. It will be very interesting to see if I still run into the same issues with this postpartum experience. 

I want to point out how important it is to relax for that first month or two after birth and just focus on enjoying your baby. Looking back, I put so much pressure on myself and had a tight timeline in mind to get the weight off. Remember, it takes 10 months for your baby to fully grow in your womb and in many cases that extra weight can take just as long to lose. As long as you are healthy and get outside and move a few times a week your body will hopefully shed the weight when ready. 

15 fun facts about breastfeeding HERE

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