Category Archives: Learning

I’m ALIVE!

No, I didn’t fall of the edge of the Earth. No, T didn’t start walking. I just… went back to work. It’s been a struggle to find time to do the dishes, let alone write a blog post!

I have to say, I don’t know how working moms who don’t L-O-V-E their jobs can do it. I’m having a hard enough time leaving every day, and I adore my job. I can’t imagine leaving every day to go to a job I hate. It’s such a struggle to balance being great at my job and being a great mom. I’m trying to sift through all that and decide what it should look like, and it’s honestly a lot harder than I ever thought it would be.

In the twenty minutes or so that it takes me to get to work everyday, I think to myself, “I’m gonna quit my job today. I have no business leaving my son every morning. I hate it. I’m done.”

Then I walk into my classroom and have the opportunity to teach those fifteen smiling beautiful faces. I can literally see the light bulbs go off when they finally understand a concept we’ve been working on. Like telling time… it’s a long road to being able to read a clock, let me tell you. This past week I had several students who had major break-throughs in the time-telling department. Seeing those successes and knowing I had a part in it is amazing. It’s why I love my job.

Then lunchtime comes, and I have to get the giant, noisy, cold, plastic pump out. In the ten to fifteen minutes that I’m pumping, I usually send a text or two to check on T and Jessi or John will send me a picture of him smiling happily or rolling over or sitting up, and I’m ready to quit my job again. How can I be missing all of this? Evenings and weekends are not enough!

It’s a constant back and forth with myself. Even though I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing… I can’t help but struggle with it! I never thought I would second guess my decision to go back to work… but it’s true what they say: A baby changes everything!

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Pump It Up!

 

For the past five months, I’ve been so nervous about going back to work for a bunch of reasons. Once I came to terms (as much as can be expected) with being separated from my baby, I became extremely nervous about pumping enough milk while at work. My goal from before T’s birth was to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, then to continue to breastfeed for at least a year. The thought of going back to work and not producing enough milk seriously upsets me. I know that in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that big of a deal… but I’m pretty stubborn (shocker), and once I set a goal, you can bet I will be devastated if I don’t meet or exceed it.

So, naturally, I spent all summer pumping and storing over 200 ounces of milk in our freezer. I figured that would get me through a month or two of “daycare bottles” if pumping didn’t go well and I wasn’t able to meet T’s milk demands. Am I crazy? Absolutely. Did it work? You betcha.

Now that I’ve been back at work for two weeks, I’m pleased to report that not only have I pumped enough milk to feed T when I’m away, I actually have a surplus. T takes two 4 oz bottles every day while I’m gone (once school starts and my days are a little longer, he will probably need 3 bottles). I have pumped no less than 10 oz every day. I’ve never pumped less than 5 oz in a session. Sometimes (like just now) I pump 6 oz in one session.

I’m so pleased with this that I’ve started thinking about what advice I would give to a new mom returning to work and hoping to pump. I actually have a coworker who will be in this very situation later this school year, so I’ve really been thinking of advice for her. She’s my inspiration for this post.  So, in honor of Sweet Nika, I give you:

Pearls of Pumping Wisdom!

  1. Start pumping before you go back to work. This will increase your overall daily output, and what you pump can be frozen and saved for “emergencies.” Frozen milk lasts 6 months in the freezer.
  2. Don’t stress out if you don’t pump much at first. Babies are inherently more efficient than any pump. It may take your body some time to get used to producing for a cold plastic pump. If you follow rule #1, then rule #2 will be a breeze.
  3. Spend the first 2-3 weeks of your baby’s life nursing as much as possible. This is smart because it’s a good way to boost your supply without having to pump (have I mentioned how much I hate my breast pump? Or any breast pump for that matter?).  Don’t focus too much on pumping the first two weeks. Enjoy your baby and get rest… adequate rest is good for your supply. Only pump when you feel engorged at first. You can “schedule” pumping sessions later!
  4. Eat, Drink, and be Merry! Seriously, increase your water intake as much as possible. Pack snacks so you can eat every few hours. I’m eating almonds right now and slurping my way through giant bottle numero tres of ice water.
  5. Make time to pump during the workday. There’s no way around it, ladies. You have to pump if you want your supply to stay intact. You have to take time out of your day for this. It’s not easy. Believe me, I’m an elementary school teacher. Finding time to sneak off to pump when you have a classroom full of noisy, nosy, and active children is difficult. FIND THE TIME. It’s important.

Good luck, Mamas! With just a little effort, you too can be a dairy cow! 😉

 

Mythbusters: Lactation Edition, Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of Mythbusters: Lactation Edition! For this segment, I interviewed my lovely friend Caitlyn, a dietician (who took time away from studying for her board exams to answer these questions. So hop on over to her blog and show her some love for being so awesome!) Caitlyn is a huge breastfeeding advocate, and the questions I asked her deal primarily with the nutritional makeup of breast milk. There are a lot of myths out there about how a mother’s diet affects her milk.

1. If I don’t eat extremely healthy, is my breast milk really any better than formula? Yes…contrary to popular belief mom’s don’t have to eat “perfectly” healthy to have good breast milk. I mean is “perfectly healthy” even possible? I digress…so yes your breastmilk would still be better than formula for a healthy baby. However, you do want to eat a variety of foods and continue to take your vitamins to ensure no nutritional deficiencies will arise in your milk and your baby. You also want to make sure to get enough calories throughout the day. During breastfeeding, you will need to consume approximately 300-500 extra calories to make up for the loss during feeding. The avoidance of alcohol is still necessary as it will pass through your bloodstream to your milk. DISCLAIMER: Babies with special needs (ie. absorption problems, genetic disorders, etc.) may be required to be on particular formulas, therefore that would be the most appropriate for their baby. This statement does not fit with everyone.

2. Is there any nutritional benefit to breastfeeding longer than six months? Yes…as your baby grows your milk changes to their changing needs. Can we say ahh maze ing?! Typically the introduction of solid foods can occur around 4-6 months, yet your baby should still be getting the majority of his/her nutrients via breastmilk. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding at least until one year, while the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding until two years. While weaning time is up to your discretion, there are still many benefits of continuing and weaning should still include breast milk as the major source of nutrition.

3. Isn’t formula just as good for your baby as breast milk?  On the contrary, “Breast milk is widely acknowledged as the most complete form of nutrition for infants, with a range of benefits for infants’ health, growth, immunity and development.”– Healthy People 2010, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia

Breastmilk is a unique form of nutrition that cannot be replaced by other sources, including formula. While formula companies strive to create the closest form of nutrition to breast milk, it still falls short. For one thing, formula can’t continue to specifically change to your babies growing needs. It also can’t meet each of the vast and complex nutrient requirements your baby has. Many studies have also shown that:

  • Breast-fed children are more resistant to infection and diseases early in life (and even as they grow) when compared to formula fed babies (ie. less need for squeezing antibacterial on every person that touches your baby!). This is because the mother’s antibodies are being passed through the milk to the child.
  • Breast-fed children are less likely to develop allergies when compared to formula fed children.
  • Mothers who breastfeed are less likely to develop osteoporosis later in life, more likely to lose the baby weight quicker, and have a lower risk of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer.

So see…there are benefits all around (source: www.nrdc.org)

4. If I give my newborn rice cereal, will he sleep longer at night? No…in fact there may be risk involved with this. Remember the recommendation for starting solid food is around 4-6 months, so therefore anything prior to that could be dangerous. Also when you introduce solid foods, the child should be in the upright position. It could be dangerous to put food in the bottle as the baby could aspirate (inhale and choke). Babies sleeping habits will improve with maturity, not a bedtime snack. One study was performed on rice cereal and it’s aid in sleeping. No statistical correlation was found. So not only could these be dangerous, but also ineffective.
Thanks, Caitlyn for answering these questions… and GOOD LUCK on your boards! You’re gonna rock it! 🙂

Mythbusters: Lactation Edition, Part 2

The next set of breastfeeding myths are discussed with the lovely Meagan. Meagan is a nursing student, whose field of interest is in labor and delivery, as well as lactation. She’s very knowledgeable and passionate about breastfeeding & I’m so glad she was able to answer these questions for me. She’s also adorable. And engaged to one of my oldest friends, Ryan. Not oldest, as in, he’s old… Oldest as in we’ve known each other most of our lives. But I digress…

1. Should I supplement with formula until my milk comes in? There is no need to supplement. Before the milk “comes in,” there is still a substance called colostrum in the breast and it is sufficient for the baby. It has all he/she needs for nutrition. I have to add, though, that this is applies ONLY in situations where the newborn is healthy and has no blood sugar/health issues.

2. My newborn wants to eat constantly… am I making enough milk? It’s as simple as supply and demand. The newborn wants to feed when they’re hungry. Each time they feed, they stimulate more milk production. Sometimes, they are even soothed by the mother’s nipple…like a pacifier, which would make them want to “latch” constantly. Make sure they’re gaining weight and that they’re having wet and dirty diapers is also another indication that they’re receiving what they need.

3. I’m only getting half an ounce when I pump, do I have a low milk supply? That doesn’t necessarily mean you have low supply. It may be the type of pump used. Babies also suck milk MUCH better than a pump could ever do. If the baby is gaining weight and having the physician-recommended wet/dirty diapers, chances are, the milk supply is NOT low. It’s also good for moms to drink lots of water to get that milk a flowin’ .

4. If I nurse all the time, will I run out of milk? You will NOT run out of milk. This goes back to the supply and demand thing.. Once the baby sucking stimulates the breast, it continues to produce milk, never “emptying.” There’s a constant flow of milk.. The baby will never empty a breast in one feeding because there’s always more milk coming in. They will know when they need to stop.

Meagan did such a great job answering these questions… I only have one thing to add. She’s absolutely right about the pumping. If someone wouldn’t have told me that pumps are less efficient than babies, I would have had several (more than I already did) major panic attacks when T was brand new. I didn’t really start pumping till he was 2-3 weeks old, and I hardly got anything for what seemed like forever. It would take me 4 or 5 sessions to get 3 oz. Eventually, my body adjusted & I was able to actually pump a significant amount of milk, but it took awhile. Especially since I was with T all the time, so I was not pumping in place of feedings. Now, I can easily get 4 oz in 15 minutes in between feedings.

Anyways, on a side note, I’m so excited to get my friends and family involved in this blog! I’m just having so much fun writing and researching things I’m interested in! Hopefully with me going back to work soon (and by soon, I mean Monday!) I can enlist some special guest posters (i.e. My friends Kayla & Kristin, and possibly my husband… he’s the idea man behind this blog anyway!)

Thanks, again, Meagan for playing Mythbusters with me! 🙂