December 17th, 2010 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Breast is BestPumping

An Interview with Jen - a Mom's Bumpy Road to Exclusively Pumping and PIP!

The following is an interview with Jen from Life With Levi. Jen bought a PumpEase from us a couple of months ago and so loved it that she contacted us to pitch an idea to PIP (pump in public) on Black Friday, take pictures and blog about it! We were SOOO game! So we sent her a complimentary PumpEase (so that she had one for work and one for home) and sat back and watched her go! Jen then told us she also wanted to review PumpEase which we were also thrilled about. And as you can see, er... read, she wrote an honest, thorough and detailed review! Keep your eyes on Jen - she is an exclusively pumping mom with lots of experiences to share!

OK, now for the interview...

Wendy:  When did you know that you wanted to breastfeed your baby?

Jen:  I always planned on breastfeeding. I guess I didn't really consider that there were other options. I mean, I know formula exists, but I've always thought of formula as Plan B, not Plan A.

Wendy:  How were the early days of breastfeeding for you and your son?nipple shield

Jen:  They were a struggle from the beginning. At the hospital, I had a lactation consultant visit to help me. She recommended using a nipple shield, since I apparently have a flat nipple (This was news to me, but it's true. Amazing what you learn about your body when breastfeeding!). Even with the nipple shield, breastfeeding was a struggle. I went back to see the lactation consultant a week later - she told me part of our issue was my letdown, and that I should try pumping a bit before breastfeeding so that the milk was already flowing when Levi latched on. Trying to manage pumping, getting a nipple shield in place, and a squirming, crying newborn was tough, and it only worked partially for us. I was lucky if I could get Levi to feed for more than 5 or 10 minutes at a time. After we both got frustrated, I would switch to pumping, then bottle feed him the pumped milk. I wanted to keep our breastfeeding relationship going, but I also wanted to make sure he got enough to eat when he was hungry, and that's what worked for us.

Wendy:  How were the early days of pumping? How was your letdown? Finding the time to pump? Was it hard to pump enough milk?

Jen:  Pumping for me was an emotional experience in the early days. I would cry while pumping, because I felt like a failure that I wasn't breastfeeding the "normal" way. It was both a relief and a chore - the pump didn't have latch issues or pull away from my breast, but it did take time. As a sleepless, exhausted new mom, it was a tough cycle - trying to find time to pump with everything else going on was really hard. Once I started pumping, though, I had absolutely no trouble maintaining my supply. In fact, I probably have an oversupply of milk now thanks to all the pumping I did in the early days and continue to do now.

Wendy:  What brand/model of pump do you use? Do you rent or own?

Jen:  I own two breast pumps currently - a Playtex Embrace that I bought while I was still pregnant, and a Medela Pump In Style that I bought to keep at work when I returned after maternity leave. I also have two sets of parts for each pump, so I can still have another to use when one set is drying.

Wendy:  What led to you pumping exclusively?

Jen:  Long story short - I developed a breast abscess that required surgical drainage when Levi was only a couple weeks old. It was too painful to try to breastfeed, but I had to keep expressing milk or the infection could get worse, so pumping was really my only option. I wound up needing two surgeries and a 4-day hospital stay to clear the infection. By the time everything was healed up, two months had gone by and I was already used to exclusive pumping.

Wendy:  How long after giving birth did you return to work? How did you prepare for this transition? Did you build a stash? Talk to your boss? 

freezer stashJen:  I went back to work after 12 wonderful weeks of maternity leave. I had burned through all of my freezer stash when I was recovering from surgery, but thankfully was able to build up a new stash before I went back to work. I work for a global company in a relatively small office (about 30 people). I made sure to research my legal rights before returning to work, and my boss knew I was breastfeeding, but I didn't talk to her specifically about logistics until I started back. (If I could do it again, I would definitely have this conversation in advance.) Luckily, she had no issues with it, and just let me do what I needed to.

Wendy:  Did you always have your "pumping cave" or did you have to fight for a private place to pump?

Jen:  I'm definitely spoiled when it comes to my "pumping cave". I've had it from day one. I assumed that would be the setup when I returned from work, but wasn't sure until I spoke with HR. For those that are wondering, my pumping cave is a private office on a vacant side of the building that's for my exclusive pumping use. Technically, our company doesn't lease that side of the building, so it's not something that will always be available to people in my company. Most of the women in my office are past menopause, so I think HR just handled this on a case-by-case basis. I know I'm blessed, because I've worked for companies that don't have space set aside for moms who pump, and I've heard stories of women who have to fight with their bosses to get ample time or adequate private space to pump.

Wendy:  What has been the hardest thing about pumping? The most rewarding?

Jen:  The middle of the night pumping sessions are the hardest. All I want to do is sleep, but instead I'm up and pumping. I've started going longer between nighttime pumping sessions, but wake up engorged and uncomfortable. Plus, going longer between pumping sessions is a slippery slope - I find myself pumping every 4 or 5 hours instead of every 3 more often now, especially at work.

I almost hate to admit this, but the most rewarding thing for me right now is how much I'm not spending on formula. Yes, I'm feeding my son the perfectfood, I'm lowering my risk factor for breast cancer, etc... those are all things that I love, but I guess I kind of take them for granted at this point. But my bank account is something I keep a close eye on, and knowing I don't have to budget for formula is a huge relief.

Wendy:  What surprised you the most about pumping? About breastfeeding?

Jen:  It's super easy once you get the hang of it. I just realized I've been doing this for almost 4 months now, and show no signs of stopping. My supply has leveled out. I no longer leak through all my shirts. Pumping is relatively easy to work into my schedule, and I find I enjoy pumping as a bit of "quiet me time" now.

Jen from @LifeWithLevi - PIP!Jen from @LifeWithLevi - PiP!All done!

Wendy:  How did you come up with the idea to try pumping while shopping on Black Friday? At any point during the day, did you ask yourself, "WHAT am I doing????"

Jen:  Several times, actually! LOL. Neccessity is the mother of invention, right? I refused to miss out on Black Friday shopping, and I also refused to skip a pumping session, since engorgement sucks. So I decided to do both. I live in Minnesota, and pumping in the car would be cold and uncomfortable, so I decided I'd just bring my pump in with me. I use my PumpEase while pumping for everything else (folding clothes, catching up on Twitter, reading a magazine), so why not give it a go for shopping?

Wendy:  How did you feel after you accomplished your goal of PIP (pumping in public)? Did you feel like a super hero? Were you surprised? Did you think, "What's next?"

Jen:  It was awesome! I was surprised just how easy it was. I even had a lady give me a thumbs up when she saw my Medela pump bag (I'm guessing she recognized it, because she looked at my chest next and gave me a knowing smile). Now that I know just how well my PumpEase holds up, I'd love to try out pumping and doing other things. I'm somewhat holding off until I find a more portable pump to use, though. I'm not super modest, but I would prefer something that doesn't stick out six inches from my chest.

Thank you LOADS Jen for agreeing to this interview. I believe that moms need to TALK MORE about the fact that breastfeeding and pumping are NOT always easy in the beginning, but that it DOES get better! I am inspired by your journey and look forward to hearing more as you continue down the path of exclusively pumping for your son.

So, how was breastfeeding for YOU in the early days? What about pumping? Looking back, what one thing did you wish you had known before you had your baby? By sharing your experiences, as Jen just did, you will be helping countless other moms, present and future, beat the Booby Traps!

{Photo credit: Jen / Life with Levi}

June 28th, 2010 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Breast is BestGiving BackIn the News

Best for Babes Debuts Game-Changing Breastfeeding Ad in USA Today

Mark Friday, June 25, 2010 on your calendars.  Why?  Because years from now we will be looking back at this date as THE turning point for breastfeeding in our culture.

Best for Babes Miracle Ad in USA TodayLast Friday, the USA Today Pregnancy & Wellness Report, produced by Media Planet, will reach 2.2 million readers in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York.  It will be distributed to ob/gyn offices and physicians through the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, will be carried in all Destination Maternity stores, will be distributed at March of Dimes events, will be circulated to 25,000 members of the United States Breastfeeding Committee and all member organizations, and to all physician members of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.   

The ad was the brainchild of The Best for Babes Foundation, whom I am extremely proud to be a sponsor of at the Silver level.

Why is this ad different from others?  Why did I support this unique, groundbreaking ad?

Bettina Forbes, co-founder of Best for Babes explains:

No scare tactics: There are no pregnant moms riding mechanical bulls or participating in log-rolling contests, unlike the government's ad campaign, which was criticized for a whole lot of things, including succumbing to formula lobbyists and making moms feel guilty if they couldn't breastfeed.  Breastfeeding rates actually went down after that campaign.  (Too bad we don't have the $3 million to spend on our campaign!)

It has mass-market appeal:  Unlike the Ohio billboards that got flak for showing a black baby drooling breast milk that looked really unappealing, the ad urges all moms to find the right support, whether they breastfeed or not!  THAT is truly a first.  We're taking the pressure OFF moms and putting it on the "Booby Traps".

Highlights donor milk:  Most moms don't know that donor milk is the 2nd best choice to breastfeeding, and don't have access to it.  Formula is 3rd.

Raises awareness of the WHO Code:  The WHO Code was designed to protect moms who WANT to nurse from being derailed by aggressive formula marketing (like doctors giving mom free samples, which have been shown to decrease breastfeeding duration) but which NOBODY in the mainstream knows about.  There is NOT ONE formula ad in the issue, unlike practically every high-circulation, mainstream pregnancy & parenting magazine and website, which we worked very hard to persuade Media Planet to uphold.  All of the sponsors in our ad are WHO Code compliant, including Evenflo, the only WHO Code compliant bottle maker (and parent company of stellar breast pump Ameda) - we think they deserve kudos for that!

It's positive!  Just like with parenting, we have to be careful not to only react to bad behavior but to recognize and reinforce good behavior.  We need to create as much media attention and buzz for ads or marketing campaigns that get it right as we do for those that get it wrong.

While Best for Babes has already experienced tremendous support and kudos including feedback from actress Alysia Reiner...

"The ad is so fantastic, so hip but informative, warm but also sassy & smart, LOVE IT!  So proud to be involved with you guys." ~ Alysia

I'd like to appeal to you to help them raise further funding to roll-out this campaign on billboards, bus stations and doctors' offices around the country.  Please help to spread the word about it via Facebook, Twitter, email and by simply talking to others.  (To make it easy for you, there are quick links to share on Facebook and Twitter at the top of this post... click away!)

So did you get your copy of USA Today on Friday?  If not, you can download the Pregnancy & Wellness Report here.  Tell us what you think of the ad, the report and let us know if we can count on your for support of this very important initiative.

 

Tags: 'best for babes', 'breastfeeding versus formula', USA Today

October 3rd, 2009 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Breast is Best

Driving Without a Seatbelt - The Blinders of Our Cultural "Norms"


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I was recently in Las Vegas and took the Zappos.com tour.  When their bus came to our hotel to pick us up, I was both surprised and pleased to see that it had seatbelts (and yes I put one on)!  I can't remember ever riding on a bus with seatbelts and in fact, I always wondered why they didn't have them especially when you hear of the busloads of school children seriously injured or killed after being involved in an accident.smoking in the car with your kids in the back

This got me thinking about an oft-discussed, "remember when" conversation amongst my sisters and I... "Remember when we were kids and Mom and Dad both smoked in the car WITH THE WINDOWS ROLLED ALL THE WAY UP?  And remember how we used to tuck the seatbelts in behind the seat because no one wore them?  And remember how mothers used to ride in the front passenger seat with babies on their laps? And remember when Dad used to go out for drinks with the guys after work and drive home drunk all the way from downtown Vancouver?"

IT ALL SEEMS SO WEIRD NOW.  I feel quite uneasy if I ever ride in a motor vehicle without a seatbelt (e.g. in a taxi, bus or limo).  Our babies are in 5-point harness, rear-facing car seats.  My Mom NEVER smokes in the car - in fact, she doesn't even smoke in her own house, or anyone else's for that matter (even if the homeowners themselves do)!  In fact, many US States and Canadian Provinces (BC, Ontario and Nova Scotia) have passed laws prohibiting smoking in your car if you have children with you.  And who risks driving drunk anymore?  Not I, and I'm sure, not you either.

It's all what we're used to - the cultural norm.  These changes didn't happen overnight.  When the change first occurs, people resist because generally, people don't like change.  I remember HATING to have to wear a seatbelt when it became law.  Today, when I get into the car, I couldn't imagine even backing out of the driveway without a seatbelt.  It feels weird NOT to have it on!  So gradually things change and then everyone thinks back to "remember when" and how, in contrast, their past behaviours feel so odd and distant and CRAZY today!why do humans drink another species' milk?

And speaking of "what we're used to", what other mammals do you know that drink milk from another species?  And what other mammals do you know that drink milk past infancy?  The fact that we have been brainwashed by the Dairy Industry to think we should ingest cow's milk as the "norm" is a perfect example of the blinders we wear in our culture.  When you REALLY sit down and think about this, humans drinking cow's milk is NOT NORMAL.  Yet many of us do it without ever questioning it.

The same goes for the Formula Industry and their marketing campaigns that have brainwashed both health care professionals and consumers to really believe that artificial feeding is as good as breastmilk.  I believe that formula should only be available by perscription and in a tin with a generic label - no brand names, pictures or promotional messages such that it is in Iran.  But I digress.  That is a whole other post.

Another example is fashion, albeit a bit less significant societally, but may resonate with some readers all the same. Do you remember when skinny leg jeans came into style? (yes I know I am dating myself).  I remember thinking I would "never" wear them.  Yuck! I loved my bell bottoms!  But there we were a few months later enmasse.

So why then, when we hear of a woman cross-nursing a baby, something that was a cultural norm only a little more than 60 years ago, are we squeamish or worse, even mortified?

My sister sent me an article that she had ripped-out of the October 2009 issue of Canadian Family magazine entitled "Bunch of boobs".  It is a true story by Catherine Connors, citing a situation she found herself in - with painfully engorged breasts, sans a breast pump and an offer to nurse another woman's hungry baby - an act that would solve both problems - settling the hungry baby and relieving her painful engorgement.  The article also appears on her blog bearing the title, They Shoot Wet Nurses, Don't They?

I think Angie Felton of ParentDish sums it up quite nicely in her article, Cross Nursing - Natural extension or disgusting and weird?, in which she writes, "When I was in the midst of my own nursing years (I nursed all four of my kids) nursing a friend's baby wouldn't have been more intimate to me than giving them a bottle, simply a means to END THE CRYING. However, I was in a completely different mindset where breasts were purely utilitarian baby feeding devices. I'm no longer at that point, and can understand people being grossed out at the thought of breastfeeding someone else's child."

But shouldn't we all take a step back, adopt a similar mindset and realize that breasts ARE utilitarian baby feeding devices?  I know it is hard to wade through all the sexual images we are inundated with in our culture to achieve clarity on this, however, this is the reason women have breasts and men don't.  Think about it.  I also realize that this task may be more difficult for non-moms - I didn't become a mom until I was 38 years old and thus had formed opinions (albeit misinformed ones) about many subjects around breastfeeding and motherhood.  For example, my opinion about the length of a mother's breastfeeding relationship with her child was summed up in a statement such as, "If they're old enough to ask for it, then it is time to wean."  How naive was I?  Today I am quite irritated by the term "extended breastfeeding" because it labels it as an "outside the norm" activity.  How can we view breastfeeding a toddler as "weird" when the experts at the AAP, the AAFP, Health Canada and the WHO all recommend exclusively breastfeeding your baby for the first six months of life and continuing to breastfeed for up to two years and beyond?  I was wrong.  I was misinformed.  Educate yourself.  It's your responsibility to do so before voicing an opinion.

I too am finished breastfeeding my children, however, if I had milk today and found myself in a situation similar to Catherine's, I'm certain I would partake.  As far as how I would feel about it, I think it "could" feel a little weird, almost illicit (only because of the cultural perception) to breastfeed another mother's child, however, I don't think that feeling would last more than a few seconds before it changed into exhilaration, empowerment and inspiration!  I believe I would actually feel quite proud - as though I was a trailblazer for all women!

With regards to HIV and other communicable diseases, the "knee-jerk" reason most commonly heard in opposition of this issue, I trust that the mothers of today are intelligent women and will use her common sense in choosing a wet nurse or a cross-nursing partner that she trusts.  I simply don't accept that as a valid reason not to cross-nurse.  Mothers will protect their child in every aspect of parenting including this one.  Case closed.

So the next time you witness or read something in the media that makes you feel uncomfortable or upset, perhaps take the time to do a little research.  Find out the where's and the why's; if it has ever been the "norm" in the past, find out WHY it went "out of fashion" (for lack of a better word) and decide for yourself if that reason is something you agree with or if its the result of unfortunate shifts in our cultural thinking.  Change isn't ALWAYS for the better.

So would you nurse another woman's baby?  Tell me about it below.

{"easyJet Seatbelt" by Christopher Doyle is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0}

{"Cow-Milking Demonstration" by Judy Baxter is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0}

September 27th, 2009 • Comments: 0 • by Stephanie • Breast is BestInside SnugabellPumping

Guest Post: What's that Noise? *or passing the time while pumping*


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Anyone who spends any amount of time pumping breast milk for their baby realizes quickly how mind-numbingly boring it can be.  One of the biggest let-down killers is bottle-watching: waiting for the bottle to fill and only getting the drip, drip, drip...  Be one of the many women who exclusively pump (EP) and you quickly realize that these hours of your life must be filled with something other than waiting for the oxytocin release.  After I finished my year of EPing, I calculated that I had spent approximately one entire month of my life with my breast pump.  And while I never question or regret the choice I made to express milk for my son, I also know that this time was not always relaxing or enjoyable.  Finding something to do while pumping, however, can help make the experience more enjoyable.  So what are your options?

There is (excuse the expression and the pun) the boob tube.  During my midnight pumping sessions I became a connoisseur of late night and late, late night television.   I truly believe David Letterman and I had a personal relationship.  (Note to self: I must reconnect with him.)   Emergency 51, Marcus Welby, and Quincy were all on in the wee hours of the night and got me through many 2 a.m. pumping sessions not to mention teaching me all about emergency medicine and autopsies!

Sleeping of course can not be discounted as an option.  Yes, it can be done!  While usually not a planned activity during pumping, you will be equally surprised as I was the first time you wake up, milk overflowing the collection bottles, and a sense of disorientation overflowing you.  While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend sleeping as an option, it is possible, does happen, and when it does happen to you, know you are not the only one!

Talking on the phone can be a very pleasant way to pass the time (as long as it’s not your nosy mother-in-law you are talking to) and keep your mind off the bottles.  However, you might want to carefully consider who you are talking to so when the inevitable question of “What is that noise?” arises, you can answer without embarrassment or at the very least have a quick, and perhaps distracting, response preplanned.

One of the most common methods to pass time while pumping is to surf the web.  With countless hyperlinks to follow, filling fifteen to twenty minutes of your time is quite simple.  Catching up on posts on the many discussion boards focused on expressing breast milk helps to build community, camaraderie and support which is so critical in what can be a very isolating activity.  On the downside, you have to avoid the many opportunities available on the internet to spend money!

What else can you do?  Really pretty much anything.  I have even heard of women who drive their car while expressing!  And when you start to consider all the possible ways to pass the time while pumping, you begin to wonder, “Just how do you manage all these things while trying to operate the pump, hold the collection bottles, do breast compressions, deal with the overflowing bottles...?”

Well, watching television can be done without the need of hands.  Sleeping can easily begin without a need for hands, but pretty much anything else will require an extra set of hands- or the use of the ones you already have.  For me, this was accomplished through my wonderfully short stature.  In most cases, this is a detriment, but when pumping, my short stature allowed me to precariously perch the collection bottles on my knees with one forearm pressed against one bottle and the hand on the same arm holding the other bottle.  This of course only frees up only one hand making very slow work of typing and requires everything be within close reach.  For women nursing at the keyboard they have come up with the acronym “NAK” (nursing at keyboard) to explain poor keyboarding or spelling.  I have yet to see anyone use “PAK” (pumping at keyboard) but perhaps it is time it is used as well.

hands-free pumpingSince I was pumping, more than five years ago, there have been a myriad of products come to market that allow for hands-free pumping.  Hands-free devices provide a certain amount of freedom impossible without them.  While not necessary, a good hands-free bra can allow women to focus on something other than the bottles and the milk being expressed and actually help to improve the volume of milk expressed.  Using a hands-free bra can actually reclaim some of the time spent pumping and turn it into something that you can use for yourself.

So, what do YOU do while pumping?  Drop us a line below and tell us about it!

Stephanie Casemore is the author of Exclusively Pumping Breast Milk: a Guide to Providing Expressed Breast Milk for your Baby.  For more information on exclusively pumping or to purchase Stephanie's book, visit www.ExclusivelyPumping.com

June 30th, 2009 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Breast is BestMedia & MarketingPumping

This Breastfeeding Ad is a Ripper!


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As you may or may not know, I feel very strongly about a woman's right to breastfeed in public.  I saw this ad and thought it was brilliant.  Or in Aussie lingo, a R-I-P-P-E-R!


So who has a connection at INFACT Canada or the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada or better yet, at the Department of Justice of the Government of Canada - the department responsible for the upholding of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?  Specifically Section 15(1) and Section 28.  Let's lobby for some breastfeeding ads like this one!  Short, sweet and OH SO to the point!

You like?  Leave me a comment with your opinion!