Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Time for Gratitude: Big Girl Beds and Grandmas

Ok, so this past week our baby girl got a real big girl bed. It’s not one of those “in-between” toddler beds, though she did have one of those. It isn’t even a twin size bed, suitable for one and only one person. It is an actual full size bed. As I had thought about her transitioning from her toddler bed, I just always assumed we would get her a twin bed and she would be happy with it, and eventually, like maybe in high school or something, we would get her a big full or queen bed. Most nights she comes up and sleeps with us for about half the night, anyway.

Well, my grandma and grandpa had a different idea. My grandma passed away on September 10, 2000 in a car accident, and my grandpa just passed on Good Friday this past spring. So, this summer my mom and her siblings had the task of going through their house and getting rid of everything and taking what they wanted, what their families might want, etc. I had told my mom that if nobody else wanted the beds, I would take one and we could store it until Vienna was ready to transition. I also told her that I definitely wanted a dresser for Vienna if nobody else wanted one, as we are using plastic drawers for her clothes right now. Well, my mom totally rocks, and she got some beds as wells as several dressers.

When my brothers, sister, and I went through everything that my mom had gotten from my grandparent’s home, we basically just split everything up…if mom didn’t want it, us kids got to claim it if we wanted. If more than one person wanted something we rolled dice for it. It was a really good and fair system and went quite quickly. Among many other things, a beautiful antique dresser and full size bed were now ours. At the end of everything that day, I asked my folks if they could store the bed on their farm or in their storage since we don’t really have a place for it until Vienna is ready for it. My mom looked at me with a grin and said “I’ll bet she’s ready for it now”. Words I hadn’t even considered. I mean, she’s my baby! How in the world could she be ready for a big full size bed?

Well, I decided “what the heck?” and asked her. I pointed to the big bed (well, actually I pointed to the mattress and box spring that were leaning against a tree outside at the time), and asked her if she would like to start sleeping in it. She got giddy (like a 3 ½ year old gets giddy at the simplest of things). She began dancing around on the deck and said, “you mean I get to start sleeping in the bed with flowers on it?!” (it has big, gaudy orange and brown flowers on it). She then began to tell us all kinds of things that she was going to do with the bed. She’s quite the story teller J.

So, last week my folks hauled the dresser and bed here to our home in Mitchell from Platte where they live. Randall and Dad got the bed all set up, got the dresser situated in her room, and Vienna was on cloud nine. I had some sheets ready, so Mom and I made the bed and both Vienna and Porter were jumping on it, squealing with delight, and giggling like only a 3 ½ and 1 ½ year old can. It was priceless.

One thing I definitely didn’t expect, though, was my emotion about it. I know which room this bed came from, and I remember oh-so-clearly while growing up, playing on, sleeping on, and staying up to all hours of the night with my cousins talking on this bed. It has “1973” written on it (remember the gaudy flowers?)…my grandma wrote down and kept everything, so it doesn’t surprise me that she wanted to keep track of when they got it. In fact, my mom probably slept on it in high school, since it was in what was once her room and she graduated in 1975. How cool is that?

My grandma meant SO much to me. She was the most wonderful woman in the world (next to my own mom, of course – ha!). I’ll write more about her and the gifts she gave me in another post. For now, though, I’m looking forward to curling up to my little punkin tonight, reading her some books, praying with her, and giving her all kinds of love on the bed that my grandma and her grandma are tied so closely to.

Monday, August 29, 2011

If I had only known then what I know now......

How many of us have found ourselves saying that at one time or another? I think this statement is especially true when it comes to our children and striving to do what is best for them.

My name is Beth Joramo, wife, mamma to 4, and former WIC breastfeeding peer counselor. (You can read more about us here)

When I started my job as a peer counselor I thought I was pretty knowledgeable when it came to breastfeeding. After all I had successfully nursed 3 babies, that counts for something right? Boy did I realize there was SO much more out there than I ever knew! It also made me realize how little education I received from my doctor, nurses, and the hospital. As part of my training I had to complete a course on breastfeeding, tips, techniques, physiological components of it, and most importantly how to effectively share my knowledge with others.

Let me tell you a little about each of my blessings and my experience breastfeeding them. The most important thing to remember is that each and every child is different and each breastfeeding experience is different. If you had a terrible experience nursing your first child, don’t give up! Educate yourself on what happened, how you could do things differently, and try again! If you had a picture perfect experience with your first, good for you! Remember however, that doesn’t guarantee ease the next time. Every baby is different and it is still important to be educated.

I was almost 21 when I had my first daughter. I had given no thought to breastfeeding as almost none of my family members (that I was aware of) had done it. No one had talked to me about it and I didn’t even think people still did that. It’s important to note that I grew up on a beef farm and knew the importance of those baby calves getting up to suck in the first hour, and the importance of colostrum, but somehow that didn’t translate in my mind to our babies. So I started my prenatal visits, and my doctor didn’t make any mention of breastfeeding. I’m so thankful however for my best friend who told me, “You need to breastfeed. It’s the perfect food for baby, it will keep her healthy, and you don’t have to get up and mix bottles in the middle of the night!” At one point further on in my pregnancy my doctor did ask me what my feeding plan was and I said I was going to breastfeed. He said that his wife had breastfed all their children and it was a good thing to do. And that was it. No more discussion, advice, or tips. Bear in mind, I didn’t realize I needed any advice either, so I didn’t ask any questions. My new thinking was this is what God made us to do, so great! I’ll breastfeed my baby, and things will be utopia. *ignorance is NOT bliss*

My daughter was born on her due date, a beautiful 8lb 3oz bundle with a full head of hair. I had checked into the hospital around midnight in a fierce thunderstorm after laboring at home for a day and a half. She was born around 5am and I was EXHAUSTED. I thought nothing of the nurses ‘doing their job’ and whisking my baby away for a bit while I slept. I don’t remember exactly what time they brought her back and we started to work on latching, but several hours had passed. I remember feeling so embarrassed as the nurse grabbed my breast and said “do it this way”. She also kept trying to cover me up and told me I couldn’t pull my gown down so far. I felt silly having to have help with something that was “just supposed to happen – right?” Eventually she latched on well and went to town. So all was well and it was smooth sailing from there on out. The end.
Hardly. I returned to work when she was a couple of months old with the help of a Medela pump I had borrowed from my friend. Here is a prime example of why you should buy, or rent your own pump, or borrow one from your WIC office. I had the equipment and didn’t have to pay for it. Yay! However I had no help with the ins and outs of pumping and returning to work. No one told me about supply and demand. No one told me I should pump as often as my baby was eating or I wouldn’t have enough milk for her. No one told me it was going to be work. Had I purchased my own pump from an authorized retailer, such as Elegant Mommy, I would have gotten some of that advice and been better prepared for the road ahead. With all those factors in play my milk supply did indeed dry up and I had to start supplementing my baby with formula at 5 months. I was disappointed but thought it was ok because formula was just as good as breastmilk, and I could get it free from WIC. (More on that later) *If I had only known then what I know now*

16 months later God blessed us with another daughter. This one came 6 weeks early due to congestive heart failure. Needless to say, it was not an ideal situation. I had an emergency C-section and saw my purple baby briefly before she was whisked away to the NICU. She spent the next 32 days there clinging to life. She had congestive heart failure, respiratory failure, and renal failure. She spent the first 4 hours of her life more dead than alive. Miraculously, she survived and is a testament to the power of prayer and some amazing God fearing doctors. I pumped for her during that first month and while she was only taking a few cc of milk at a time, I was producing several ounces and the thought of latching her was not even on my radar. I also endured mastitis during this time because I did not know that I needed to pump often to avoid engorgement. I was pumping some while at the hospital and I am so thankful for the nurse in the NICU who asked how it was going. I told her I thought it was fine, but my breast was getting red and sore. She told me to call my doctor ASAP because I probably had a breast infection. I am so glad I listened!
By the time she was 3 weeks old, things were looking up and they started talking about her being able to go home. The lactation consultant started working with me on latching her. We spent about an hour working with her and she took to it famously. After 3 weeks of bottling and dealing with IV’s and machines she latched perfectly and nursed until she was a year old. Why stop at a year? Because that’s what you do, right? *If I had only known then what I know now*

Three years later I gave birth to a bouncing baby boy. I was a little more educated on breastfeeding at this point and knew that I didn’t have to stop at a year old, that people DO breastfeed longer. After a short labor and 2 hours in the hospital he made his debut. I still didn’t know that I could delay his cleaning and cares to have skin to skin contact and start breastfeeding. So after he was all cleaned up and in a nice bundled package, we started latching. He took to it like a champ! He did have some jaundice issues and had to have the lights for a short time. I wish someone would have told me that by breastfeeding frequently he would get over the jaundice quicker. He breastfed until he was 13 months old at which time I thought he was self-weaning. In retrospect I believe he was on a nursing strike. *If I had only known then what I know now*

Three years after our son came another daughter. At this point I was working as a peer counselor and knew I wanted to do so many things differently. I now knew the importance of latching within the first hour after delivery. (Remember those baby calves? Same thing!) When we got to the hospital I told my nurse I wanted her right away and wanted to delay the cleaning, weighing, etc. They were respectful of my wishes and when she was born they put her on my tummy. She immediately started rooting around and pulling herself toward the breast. It was so exciting to see her trying to do what babies are meant to do! I went ahead and positioned her to latch. She struggled a bit at first, and my doctor commented that “sometimes we expect too much to want these babies to breastfeed right away”. Right after that comment she latched and took off with an incredible and very audible suck/swallow. Yay baby! With all the knowledge I had acquired since the other kids this has been my best breastfeeding experience yet. I had the onset of mastitis again when she was about 4 months old, but this time I knew all the “tricks” to break up that plugged duct and head it off. She is now 16 months old and still breastfeeding. *So thankful I knew more now than I did then*

Does that mean that my other experiences were bad? No, they were all precious experiences that I will treasure of that special time with each of my kids. I just felt I was the most prepared and equipped for breastfeeding my last baby. Do I know everything? Absolutely not! I am still learning new tips, techniques, and ways to troubleshoot various problems. We should never stop learning. Even if it’s not for ourselves, for our friends, family, co-workers, anyone we may come across that needs help. What my experiences did teach me was the huge need for peer counselors and supportive friends. Whether they are La Leche League counselors, WIC counselors, or experienced friends or family, please find someone to talk to if you have questions. Educate yourself. Ask questions, read books, or dig into a great blog. Every baby is different and you never know what experiences the next baby will bring.

I had mentioned earlier about my thought that WIC was a program for free formula. I think this is a very pervasive mindset. The South Dakota Department of Health is aware of this and they have been working for several years to change that. They have implemented WIC peer counselors in nine different counties and launched a media campaign to raise awareness regarding breastfeeding. You can visit the website outlining their new breastfeeding initiative here.

If you are not sure if you would be eligible for WIC so you could access to their peer counselors you can find and contact your local office (in SD) here.
If you are from Iowa you can click here.

By Beth Joramo

Friday, August 26, 2011

Biting, Pinching, and Distracted Nurslings

So I asked our readers for some input on how they deal with or dealt with the common issues of biting, pinching, and distraction by their precious babes while they were nursing. There are a lot of great suggestions and I’ll share them with you in a minute.

First though, I want to share what I did. My daughter bit me and drew blood one night as I was nursing her to sleep. I about came out of my skin I was so surprised. I screamed (not blood curdling, but it was loud, nonetheless – ha!) which was enough to startle her into not doing it again – that night at least. Within a few times nursing, she tried it again. I don’t know if she thought me screaming was funny, or if she was just curious about how it felt the first time. Either way, I was more prepared this time. She wasn’t one to clamp down hard instantly and I could tell it was coming on. So I positioned my hand by her head. As I felt her biting down, I tugged on some of her hair (she had a lot of hair). It wasn’t hard enough to hurt her, just enough to let her know that when she bit down, her consequence was a strange feeling on her head. It only took about two times doing that and she never bit again.

Now, my son is a completely different story. That method definitely didn’t work with him. There was no “gradual” anything with him. He usually would bite-and-pull quickly and without warning. The problem with me startling him with a scream, is that after a couple times (the first couple times he cried – it broke his little heart – he got over that quickly, though) he thought it was hilarious and would laugh, try it again, I would scream and he would crack up even more. So, that didn’t last very long before whenever he would bite, I would just pull him away and stop nursing for a little while. I had always heard how different each child can be, and I never really understood until my nursing journey with him. Vienna was so easy to nurse all around – he, too, was easy to nurse – I mean we didn’t have any difficulties with latch, etc, but he was definitely more of a challenge in many ways. I think this is a prime example of how each child needs different things throughout their life – beginning when they are little babies and just beginning this journey of life.

Ok, so now that you know what I did, here are a few of our reader’s recommendations and what worked for them:

I have been bitten a couple times. She gets a stern “no” and I wait a few minutes to get back to nursing so she knows it’s not ok.

She was bad about pinching and kicking. I usually just had to hold her arms or legs down until she calmed down, then she would be fine. Sometimes shifting a little bit helped if she was doing it because she was uncomfortable.

For distraction, I just say having a routine helps with that. At home, I always nursed in the bedroom, lights off, TV on low so it was a calming environment, with little to distract her. When I nursed around the toddler, or in a different location (more as she got older), she would get startled by yelling or noise, or she’d want to look around.


Biting has only been an issue for us for a couple weeks, but the first time he bit me I just about threw him across the room I was so surprised. He drew blood! Since then he has only bitten twice, and I promptly said “NO!” and set him down. Breastfeeding time was over. He pinches quite a bit, but as long as I keep his nails cut short it isn’t too bad. I think it is his way of trying to stimulate the milk flow. As for distraction, I kind of use a three strike rule. If he pulls off more than three times in a minute, he obviously isn’t that hungry and we’ll try again later.


Honestly I have only been bitten once by each child…it was such a surprise that I screamed and that led them to not do it again J.


I have never been bitten – thankfully – but my general rule with any pinching, pulling away, or kicking is to tell him “no” and hold him snug to calm him. If that doesn’t work right away (or if he’s too rambunctious, lol) we take a break and try again later so he knows it’s not ok. If he ever does bite, I already know I will stop nursing, tell him “no”, and wait a good while before trying again. It’s important for them to learn the patterns and associate the consequences. J


I was bitten repeatedly for a few days, but only on my left side. I realized I had a plugged duct and she was unable to get any milk. When I fixed that problem, the biting stopped.


If Emmett gets too distracted or starts pinching like crazy I just hold the hand he’s pinching with and gently squeeze it with the rhythm of a heartbeat…it seems to calm him.


Stop nursing, try again a minute or two later.


For distraction I try to deal with it by going into a dark, boring room, lol! Seems to do the trick!

As for biting, we really haven’t had to deal with that too much yet, but I agree the loud exclamation seems to have curbed it so far! And my daughter tugs on my hair rather than pinching…I think it’s her security thing!


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Featured Product Day - Medela

Welcome to our Featured Product Day for Medela!

There are many of you who have used Medela products either currently or in the past. Several of our wonderful readers helped us do a “review” of sorts on the products they used. To those that agreed to do the review, I asked the following questions:

1.       What Products did you use?
2.       What did you like about the products and/or service from Medela?
3.       Do you have any other comments about your Medela products?

The responses were wonderful, and very informative. If you or someone you know is looking at Medela products, make sure to take the time to read through this post. Of course, you can stop into Elegant Mommy for Medela products as well J.

1.        I used a Medela Symphony Double Electric Breast Pump and accessories (storage containers, etc) as well as Tender Care Lanolin
2.        I loved that the breast pump was so easy to use. It was quick, quiet and efficient. The lanolin was soft and just felt good. I loved that it was safe for baby, too.
3.        If I would’ve known, I would have just bought one outright. I would not hesitate to use any Medela products in the future!


1.        I used the pump, the disposable nursing pads, storage bags, the quickclean wipes and the quick clean stream bags.
2.       I love the quick wipes and stream bags for when I worked I could just wipe the pump  and pieces down between pumping bbm and then the evening throwing them in the stream bag to sterilize them for next day. The prices are quite reasonable and quality is really well.  The pump is wonderful! I would recommend the product to anyone!


1.        I use the Medela Pump in Style breast pump and the bottles.
2.       I like how universal everything is...I also have non-Medela bottles (baby shower gift) and they fit perfectly onto the breast pump and the Medela nipples fit on these bottles too (my daughter won't drink out of the non-Medela nipples! She hates them!)! I like the style of the bottles (my daughter is 6 months old and just outgrowing the little 5oz bottles now--upgrading to the 8oz!). All of the parts and accessories are very durable. The pump has never given me any problems (and I use it quite a bit!) and the bottles and parts are easy to clean--just throw in the dishwasher!
3.        Medela products are not cheap, but they are worth the money. Durable and helpful! As a first time mom, their products have been very useful to me!


1.        I use the PISA including the bottles, pump parts, and sanitizing bags.
2.        What I love about the Medela products is that they are easy to find 
when your in a pinch. They have a great variety and are always reliable!
3.        As an exclusive pumper you have to be on a strict schedule where time 
is everything. It's necessary that Medela be dependable when things go 
wrong. I know I can count on them when I run into a suction problem or 
any other pumping matter.


1.        Pump In Style Advanced backpack, Symphony Pump, Microwave Quick Clean Bags, and Quick Clean Wipes
2.        I love the ease and convenience of the Quick Clean Products. With the bag, all you need is some water – measured in your bottle – and a microwave and *poof* you’ve sterilized your pumping parts. Plus each bag is good for 20 uses. However that is slightly misleading because if you pump both sides at once, you have two sets of shields, pieces, bottles, etc and you can only sterilize one set at a time. So if you consistently double pump, then it really is good for 10 pumping sessions. Which is still awesome. Plus they’re pretty inexpensive. Quick Clean wipes are great for when you don’t have a microwave available, or on the road, etc. They are a must for pumping on the go.
Love the Symphony – so quick and efficient – I don’t *think* you can rent them as they are generally in hospitals, but SD WIC offices upgraded to these pumps last year and that is what they loan to participants to use. (according to their guidelines). It made pumping quick and easy as it most closely resembles baby’s suck.
PIS Advanced Backpack – loved that I could throw it on my back, or over my shoulder and go. It has ample room for all the pump equipment, plus some extras. I’ve had mine for 7 years and used it for 3 kids and it continued to work very well and efficiently remove milk. I also loved that it wasn’t bulky and didn’t scream “Hey! There’s a pump in here!”
3.        They seem to consistently be looking to improve their products and cater to the changing needs of moms. I love that they make multiple sizes of shields for their pumps, recognizing that one size does not fit all. I think it is very important though to be informed and educated when looking at making a big purchase (such as a pump) and know what you need and don’t need. You can easily fall over the edge into all the accessories that may be unnecessary for your situation. Overall, I’ve had a great experience with their products and their reps.


1. *PISA-I have EPed for 6.5 months now and it's still working great. I have just replaced the tubing due to moisture and the membranes due to use.
*Lanolin-Soothes my poor nips and cuts down on the friction for repeated pumping.
*5 oz bottles-I have 8 of them. It works out great to pump into and have extra for storage in the fridge so I'm not washing bottles all day.
*Hands-free pumping bra-It did not have enough support for me. I'm a DD and I needed some shoulder straps. The Simple Wishes pumping bra is awesome!

2.  Everything I have used is great quality. Nothing has wore down due to repeated use (with the exception of the membranes but for optimal pumping those need to be routinely changed) I was hesitant to spend $300 on a pump but due to latching issues I am still able to provide my sweet baby with my breastmilk even though actual breastfeeding did not work out for us. It's the next best thing and my husband get's to bond with her during feedings too. If I ever have to buy another pump it will be a Medela, no question! I did have a concern early on with a noise my pump was making but got great customer service when I contacted them. They walked me through everything and were patient with a worn-down tired new mommy.

3.  They are worth the investment!


1.        In 2004, I rented a Lactina pump and used it to exclusively pump for my first baby.  In 2007, I rented a Lactina to use for pumping while I worked.  In 2010, I used a Symphony while my newborn was hospitalized and had surgery.
2.       I found the pumps to be easy to use and both had easy-to-adjust settings so I could figure out what was comfortable and got the most milk pumped quickly. I also found the customer service people to be friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful.


1.        Medela Nursing Bra - wire free soft cup

Medela Pump In Style Original, 24 & 27mm breast shields
breast milk bottles (no nipples)

Medela  Tender Care Lanolin

2.        Nursing Bra is comfortable, easy to clasp, though too easy to unclasp (comes undone when I lean on the edge of our claw foot tub giving kids or baby a bath) It provides a good laugh though ...  LOL

Pump - EXTREMELY durable and SOOOOO worth the money!  Mine has gone through 3 kids and on the 4th (one of my younger cousin's and one of my friend's) ...  My other cousin's older model has been through 7+ kids (one of mine, all 4 of her's, one of her sister's, & some in-law's kids)  It is effective in helping to establish milk supply and maintain it (if you're a control freak like I am about my milk supply) I Love Love Love my pump!!

I like how they offer different sizes of breast shields!  The 27 is more comfortable but I have mostly 24 and they work ok, just leave me tender. 

I don't use the bottle nipples because Playtex nursers don't choke him and everything else I try does.  I like to store expressed milk in the fridge with the Medela bottles because of the good seal the caps give!  They seem to lock down where other brands just sit on top and don't actually seal.

The Lanolin is priced comparably with other brands, doesn't smell when they seem to (to me), works good at protection so sore nipples can heal!

3.       It would be nice if the Medela bras were more affordable. I have a rough time justifying spending over 35 for a bra that I will wear for 18 months when I don't spend more than 25 for ones I wear when I'm not nursing.

I recommend the Pump In Style to everyone I know that is pregnant or planning a family.  It is worth the investment, considering the cost of formula and the things that formula lacks.


  • The Medela Pump in Style Advance (PISA) backpack style ;)
  • 2 sets of pump accessories, and every flange size they make, other than the super small =P
  • Medela Harmony (the hospital grade one? hopefully that's the right name, lol, but I used it while visiting the lactation consultants at Avera. Personally, my PISA did just as good a job!)
  • The micro-steam sterilizing microwave bags (genious!)
  • The bottles and slow flow nipples (0-4 months)...we use(d) the 0-4 size the whole time and never had a problem with her taking a bottle or nipple confusion
  • Tried a sample of the Medela was easy to spread on and not too greasy, but it "stained" any clothing it came into contact with yellow (I have a spot on a pair of jeans that I wiped up super quick, and I can still see it after washing...I haven't noticed a similar issue with the Lansinoh or Motherlove products)
  • The quick wipes...the resealable bag is awesome, too! I bought the one pack in September before going back to work and the wipes are still great and useable now!
  • The breastmilk labeling lids...I forgot to pack lids for the bottles one morning, was out of storage bags, and ran up to Target to see if they finally sold some lids individually from the are able to buy these individually and you can turn the top to "click" it to say a day of the a "best by" or "pumped in the AM/PM on___day". I really like these for daycare =)
  • The disposable Medela nursing pads...I liked these the best since they're contoured, discreet, and probably absorbant (lol!) but by the time I got to using these, it was mainly to protect my bras from the lanolin and so I wouldn't nip out =P I liked them better than the Lansinoh and Johnson and Johnson disposable ones I tried, they fit better, were more comfortable, and discreet.
  • The resusable Medela nursing pads...I didn't like these so much, since they were not very discreet at all! Plus, they stuck to me and that was not comfy (with or without lanolin)! I did like them better than the Nuk reusable ones I tried, but again, not very discreet or comfortable...(on a side note, I just recently found the bamboo ones Elegant Mommy sells...and woah...super soft, don't stick to me, and are discreet! My new favorites, lol! I'm saving the rest of my Medela disposable ones for my next newborn, whenever that is ;) and using these!)

2. I guess I kind of answered this above when I had comments ;) Overall, I really like Medela, and the customer service has been great, online and via phone. I only was in contact with a Medela rep via phone once, and that was when the lactation consultant from the hospital called them on my behalf. I needed to find the right size flange, which the lactation consultants helped me with, but my PISA's suction felt a lot stronger than the one the lactation consultants had, so they called Medela to see if this was a common problem. The Medela rep than contacted me to see how they could help, and if I needed to, or wanted to, talk with one of their RN's on staff. They seemed very concerned with helping me figure out my problem =)

3. I would totally recommend Medela to someone interested in breastfeeding, especially the PISA and accessories! From my experiance, the company seems to genuinely want to help a nursing mother succeed, and not just so they can make a profit, but because they feel "breast is best". However, like I said above, there are a few products that I have found I personally don't like as well as others out there, but pump-wise, I think Medela is awesome and does a great job.

Thanks to everyone who helped with this post! Your feedback and reviews are SO incredibly helpful to others!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Giveaway: Medela

Tomorrow, Thusday 8/25/11 is our next "Featured Product" day, where we will be featuring Medela.

We will be posting some product reviews, and in addition, they are sponsoring a giveaway of  (are you ready for this?) a Medela Swing™ Breast Pump! Can you say "WOW"?!?!

Ok, so how do you enter? It's pretty easy:

~ Simply enter a comment on this post with your full name
~ If you "follow" our blog, make a note of it in the comment for an extra chance to win!

That's it!

Please only enter one time, and we will randomly draw the winner tomorrow afternoon around 4:00 p.m., on Medela's Feature Product day. The winner will be announced tomorrow afternoon both here and on our Facebook page.

Good luck!!

****Congratulations to our winner: Jessica VanOverbeke!!!****

Thrush - How in the world do I treat it?

Of all the difficulties we face while breastfeeding, thrush can be the one of the most painful and difficult to alleviate.  Thrush is a yeast infection of the nipples and/or mouth.  Yeast naturally occurs in the body, but when our immune system is compromised or we have open skin areas, it’s easy for that yeast to take over, thus causing an infection. In Mom, symptoms are painful letdown, deep breast pain (it feels like pain flashing through your breast) painful nipples, and insane sugar craving (yeast lives off of sugar).  Symptoms in Baby include being fussy at the breast, not wanting to nurse (it hurts) and white patches in the corners of the mouth, cheeks, and on the tongue that cannot be removed and bleed when scratched at.  If you or your baby have these symptoms, it could be thrush.  You can either start treating it naturally on your own, or you can seek assistance from your care provider.

To begin treating it on your own you can try these things:

-Grapefruit seed extract.  Dilute 10-20 drops in a glass of water and drink 3-4 times a day.  This has a bitter taste, just so you know.  Some say to add it to juice, but juice has a TON of sugar, which feeds yeast, so I just sucked it up and dealt with the horrible taste.  You can also dilute 10-20 drops in 1 ounce of water and wipe or spray the nipples with it and let air dry before and after each nursing session. This can also be swabbed in the baby’s mouth.  You don’t need to wash it off before nursing again.

-Apple cider vinegar.  Make sure it is raw and unfiltered.  If it’s not it’s just regular vinegar with caramel coloring in it.  (Sneaky, huh?)  Add 1 TBSP to a glass of water and drink twice a day.  You can also dilute 1TBSP in an ounce of water and use it as a rinse/spray as well.  Make sure to use before and after nursing sessions.  Let air dry and then apply a nipple cream to prevent drying out.  DO NOT use lanolin.  It will create a barrier and you’ll have a much harder time getting rid of the infection.  This can also be swabbed in the baby’s mouth.  You do not need to wash it off before nursing again.

-Coconut oil.  Virgin, unrefined, cold pressed coconut oil.   You can apply it directly to the nipples. It’s also highly effective to ingest.  3 TBSP a day is recommended.  This is wonderful to use after a GSE or ACV rinse, and like the previous 2 things, does not need to be wiped off before nursing again.

-Garlic.  Don’t use this on your nipples. LOL  Take 2 garlic capsules with a meal twice a day.  I would recommend using this WITH another method, not by itself.  Some people also just eat raw garlic.  I have done this.  I love garlic.  But not that much. LOL

-Gentian Violet.  This is a plant based product that has amazing anti-fungal properties.  HOWEVER, it has been linked to oral cancer and contains formaldehyde.  I do not recommend it for this reason, but it’s an option.  It’s available behind the pharmacist’s counter.  Swab your nipples and baby’s mouth with it.  Make sure it is DRY before putting clothing on.  It stains everything it touches purple.  This does make for cute pictures.  Ha.

-Newman’s All Purpose Nipple Ointment (AKA, APNO).  I LOVE this stuff.  It’s amazing for treating thrush, sore, and dry/cracked nipples.   You can ask your care provider to prescribe it through a compounding pharmacy, but it’s expensive.  You can make it on your own with things from any pharmacy.  You will need a triple antibiotic ointment, an antifungal cream, and hydrocortisone cream.  Blend equal amounts of each and put a sparing layer on each nipple after each nursing session.  By sparing I mean thin enough to leave a shine and that’s it.  This does not need to be washed off, even if your provider tells you it does.

-Motherlove diaper/thrush cream.  This is available at Elegant Mommy or online.  It is applied to the nipples after each nursing session.  It says it does not need to be washed off before nursing again, but I would due to the yarrow it contains.  Yarrow is not recommended for small babies to ingest.

-Kombucha tea.  The living organisms in Kampuchea tea feed off of the yeast in your body.  And it tastes yummy.  Win/win!!  It’s available commercially and very easy to make yourself as well.

-Probiotics.  Probiotics help balance the flora in our body and will help to fight off a yeast overgrowth.  Make sure the probiotics you are taking are from the refrigerator section of wherever you purchase them from.  This keeps the ideal amount of good bacteria alive.  You can also use probiotics in your infant.  Simply open a capsule (or use powdered), wet your finger, dip it in the powder, and then put in your baby’s mouth.  Ideally you want to apply it TO the white patches if there are any.

-Yogurt.  NOT the flavored, colored stuff.  That junk is full of sugar.  You want regular yogurt.  I’ve heard Greek works the best, but I haven’t personally tried it.  Apply it to your nipples, and eat it.  I would not give yogurt to a baby that isn’t already on solid foods unless you are starting solids anyway.

-Wash everything that comes in contact with your nipples or genital area in water higher than 122 after every use.  Use towels, nursing pads, bras, and any other articles only once.  You may also add grapefruit seed extract (just a few drops) to the rinse cycle of your wash if you want to, but it’s not necessary as the water temp that high will effectively kill yeast.

The MOST important thing is continue treating yourself for AT LEAST two weeks after symptoms are gone.  Yeast is SNEAKY.   If you do not continue to treat it this long after symptoms disappear it will likely come back.  And it will be angry.  Trust me.

If you have tried these things and have no luck, or if you aren’t comfortable going the natural route, your care provider can prescribe you Diflucan and either Diflucan or Nystatin for your baby.  Nystatin is now recommended to be avoided, as it contains sugar and may actually make things worse.  Make sure you are prescribed the correct dosage or you will not effectively get rid of the infection.   The correct dosage is a 1 day push of 400mg, and then 100mg twice a day for at least 2 weeks after pain is gone.  If your care provider is unsure of this protocol, it can be found at Dr. Jack Newman’s site. (The APNO mix is also found at this link)

If you have problems with it coming back, make sure your baby has a good latch.  Irritated, cracked, or open nipples give the yeast a place of weakness to attack.  If you are treating yourself, make sure you are treating your baby as well and vice versa.  Cut out all sugar while treating thrush so you cut off it’s food supply. You may need to give up gluten as well if it’s a particularly bad infection.  I have also heard that eliminating dairy helps. 

Thrush is a jerk.  I battled it for over 2 months before finally getting rid of it.  If you think you may have thrush, start treating it as soon as possible.  Allowing an infection to go untreated could cause permanent damage to your milk ducts.

By Jessica Tebben

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mastitis and Plugged Ducts - My Experience

First off I am not a doctor and certainly no expert, but I have had mastitis and plugged ducts multiple times to various degrees of infection and pain.  Here is my experience and what I did to help myself.

Definition of Mastitis:  Inflammation of the mammary gland in the breast .  It can be accompanied with a fever and this indicates an infection.

The first time I had mastitis was with my first baby and it happened while my milk was coming in so my breasts were already tender and by the time I caught on that I had mastitis I had a fever of 105 from the infection.  With the help of my midwife we tried a few things:
  1. Pump the infected breast in between feedings.
  2. Nurse my baby first on infected breast as much as possible with the bottom of babies mouth on the side of the infected area as that tends to pull milk from that area better.
  3. Massage infected area while nursing and pumping (it hurts a lot...but it also helps draw the infection out).
  4. Soak infected breast in warm/hot water and then pump/nurse.
  5. Drink lots of water.
  6. Put cabbage leaves inside nursing bra (this really helped when the infection wasn't so bad or just beginning.)
  7. Get plenty of rest:)
  8. Whatever you not stop or decrease nursing as it will make it worse and never better.
  9. I also went back on my pre-natal vitamins and ate food rich in iron, vitamin C, and B vitamins.
  10. Mother's milk tea that included fenugreek, fennel, and blessed thistle.
So as I said my infection was so bad and I was also trying to deal with an iron deficiency from the birth that none of this worked and I had to go on antibiotics.  I really didn't want to resort to that but my fever wouldn't go away and I could barely get it down under 101 with the help of fever reducers so that was my only option at that point.  I did learn a lot though, so when I got mastitis again about 6 weeks later I knew what to do right away and treated it at home with the above help.  I again got mastitis one time with my second child and 2 more times with my third child.  It always seemed to occur at about 2-6 weeks after birth.  The things that helped me the most was getting plenty of fluids, rest, and cabbage leaves.  A heating pad also relieved some of the pain.  Mastitis can be caused by not enough feedings, pressure on breast from bras, a blocked duck, cracked nipples where infection can enter, increased hospital stays, past history of mastitis, stress, being tired, and anemia.

My one experience with a plugged duct happened when I wore a bra too soon and didn't nurse or pump enough for a 4 hour period.  I knew it was plugged as one side of my breast was hard but didn't hurt yet...I was hoping to fix the problem before it got worse.  I nursed my son and massaged my breast but he was too little to be able to unplug it.  So I looked for the plug myself and literally manually expressed my milk by hand.  I actually found the milk duct that was plugged and luckily for me it was only plugged/dried up milk right at the nipple pore so I manage to unplug it my manually expressing.  Then I nursed again and the milk came out and the hardness went away.  Plugged ducts usually occurs while not nursing enough and or wearing constricting bras causing pressure on the duct, stress, being tired, and anemia.

I found a really good website for more information on
mastitis and plugged ducts here.

Thanks and happy nursing!

By Michelle Cook

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pumping while Breastfeeding

I knew from the day I found out I was pregnant that I wanted to breast feed. Since I was only getting 8 weeks of maternity leave, pumping was going to be something I would have to do. I was not sure how long I was going to be able to do it but I was bound and determined to do it. So I was very fortunate to buy my aunts breast pump for super cheap. I decided that I was going to be one of those weirdo’s and bring my pump with me to the breast feeding classes at the hospital. I had no clue how to use it. I had them help me set it up and explain all the parts and how to use it. I was so happy I did that. It made me feel a little more comfortable with pumping. 

So June 21st 2010 came and my son Kellby was born. He latched right away and I thought we were going to have the best nursing relationship. That was not what happened. Towards the end of our hospital stay, he decided he did not want to latch. Nursing him had turned into a huge battle. The lactation specialist came in to help with our non-latching problem and to show me how to pump. She had me pump for about 10 minutes to see if my milk supply had come in and how much I was getting. She said I had a great supply and from the looks of it, a big one too. 

The next day, we left the hospital. Kellby would not take the breast no matter what I did. I knew that I could not give up so quickly and had to think fast on what to do. I decided that I was going to pump and bottle feed him. For about 2 weeks we did this. Every time it was feeding time, I would offer the breast but he would just cry. I felt so helpless. Thanks to pumping and my fast thinking we survived this bump. He finally figured out that if I just take the breast I do not have to wait to eat. It was smooth sailing after that. Someone told me to pump after each feeding to help build up the supply. So, I thought I would give it a try and it seemed to help. I think the pumping after feedings really helped build the supply I have today. I would not get much more than an ounce on each side but I was satisfied with that. I did that until I had to go back to work. I had made a pretty decent stock pile of frozen breast milk in that time. So something had to have worked.

My 8 weeks of maternity leave flew by. It was time to go back to work and I was a little afraid of how pumping and working full time was going to work. I was so lucky to have such amazing and supportive co-workers that any time I needed to pump they would let me. I kept myself on a timed schedule…when Kellby ate, I pumped. It equaled to be every 3 to 4 hours. I would pump for about 10 to 15 minutes. I am not going to lie; sometimes it was hard to get in more than one pump in at work. And my breasts would let me know. I leaked through so many shirts it is unreal. I kept on that schedule until he was about 6 months old. As he got older, I just pumped on my breaks. I found that I could go a little longer and I would not lose my supply. I tried to set a goal of milk bags home, as silly as that sounds. I wanted to replace whatever Kellby had eaten during my time away from him. Most of the time it worked out that way but some days it did not.

Now Kellby is 14 months old and still breast feeding. It does not seem to be stopping any time soon either. I still pump while at work on my breaks and it has worked great. I think if you have a company/work place that is supportive of pumping that is awesome. If you do not, I would say just try your best to pump when ever you can. I thought if I had to, the bathroom would work or in a corner somewhere. I am so thankful for the bond that my son and I have through breast feeding/pumping. I would not change it for the world.

By Katy Petit