Sunday, September 28, 2008

to pump or not to pump: hand vs. electric and the joys of breast pumps

Sorry for my lack of posts... I'm opening a studio in the next few weeks and life is crazy with my business.

Okay, so you're pregnant and you are thinking about breastfeeding, you know you want to and yet you're hoping for some freedom. Freedom that comes in the form of a bottle (if your child will take one). This bottle freedom (if you are not doing formula) comes along with something called a 'breast pump.' You are thinking, "I'll just pump... and when I want to drink 3 margaritas, I'll 'pump and dump'"-- ahh motherhood--so simple in theory. So simple while you are still pregnant and getting lots of sleep.

This 'pumping' term is so casually thrown around amongst the breastfeeding mommies it must be super simple, and fun! You are thinking, "Maybe I can read a book and pump at the same time... I'll get so much reading done. How long could it really take? I'm going to be doing the best thing for my baby..." Oh these thoughts have entered your brain.

REALITY check.

Pumping does have it's advantages...ahem, one advantage: your breast milk can be delivered by another vessel other than yourself (unless you are me and your child WILL NOT accept said vessel). Hooray! You can go out and ride your bike and do lots of fun things. BUT WAIT! You forgot, when your child is drinking from his/her bottle, and you are out doing things, like, for example, work...your boobs say "UM, I need to be emptied." Thus the breast pump to the rescue. The joys of holding those satellite dishes to your breast, thinking about your little baby and expressing milk, all the while hearing the delightful noise...KERRR-sssshh, KEERrr---shhhh, Kerrr-shhhhh. What no one told you about pumping those jugs, you are about to read... the ugly side of breast pumping....

1) You can do nothing else while pumping (at least I can't -- but I did see this shirt thing you can get to hold both pumps in place it looks BAD, real bad). In fact, you actually pump more milk per minute if you sit there and stare at a photo of your baby or think cute thoughts about your baby. If for one second you take your hand off the little dish that goes up against your breast, you lose suction and it doesn't work. JOY. So get used to it, time spent just sitting there watching your breasts eject milk.

2) If you pump, your breasts make more milk. This is basic, enough, right? Your breasts work on supply and demand and so when you pump them, they think they need to replenish the supply. Best to pump the same time every day so they don't get confused or if you are away from your baby pump on his/her schedule. If you begin to pump helter skelter, you future will include leaking. So pump your breasts only as much as your baby drinks (go by time) or else, you'll end up with too much milk with no place to go...

3) if you aren't in the habit of pumping, there won't be a lot of extra milk. Again, supply and demand. This is really only after your milk supply and nursing rhythm is established. Ex: at 2 months I could pump 8 oz like a champ pretty much anytime. But I never pump much now so when I do finally sit down to the chore, I get an ounce...unless it's Owen's nursing time. So, establish one time a day when you pump regularly so you will produce for that session. If you are like me and don't have any luck, then begin to pump at the same time every day and eventully your breasts will get the idea. They are smarter than you think!

4) hand pump (AKA manual) v. electric (Medela pump n' style) -**side note, there is NOTHING stylish about breast pumping, nice try Medela**- so they both work, but manual pump is to mail like pony express is to FedEX. I don't know if I wrote that correctly, I'm not a writer for standardized tests but trust me, just go for the type you plug in. Too expensive? Your local hospital will rent you one monthly or you can buy a used one from a friend and get all new hoses and satellite dishes, and collection bottles or bags. Funny thing is, the milk doesn't go through those hoses, so if all you are sharing the electric motor, then it's perfectly sanitary.

5) pump if your supply is low. This is one other advantage not mentioned above. You can pump to increase your supply when you are just starting to nurse, if you are having problems. This includes sitting there holding the satellite dishes to your breasts while they suck your nipple into their plasticy-shell and tell your body "produce milk." (side note, you can do this even if you haven't had a baby, mothers of adopted babies have had success actually getting their milk supply to come in when they were never pregnant). CRAZY, I KNOW!!

6) double pumping is not necessary and will increase your supply like crazy. I single side nurse, so I single side pump. I've had to pump one breast and then the other but didn't find the need for double pumping. If I was a 9-5 working girl, I guess it would come in handy. Chime in here, working girls.

I never ever pump (like once a week or so) and I can't still wanted to fork out the dough for the electric pump. I can't stand the manual pump... it's just so odd, it takes longer for your milk to let down and frankly it hurts as little. I think your breasts are like, "What-chyou-talkin'-bout-willis?"

So in short, if you want your freedom, and believe me YOU DO, get a breast pump, suffer through those boring pumping sessions and do it early. If your baby is a good nurser and having no problems, start with that bottle a day no later than two weeks. They will not get confused with one bottle a day. If you are nursing 12 times a day, they will always prefer the breast to bottle and you'll be happy you did it. If you have a little stubborn baby, like Owen, you run the risk of missing the window of opportunity of accepting a bottle. I'd say most people will agree, if they don't take it by 6 weeks, they will most likely never take it. My boy is 7 months and thinks pacifiers, bottle nipples and sippy cups are chew toys. At first he would just scream if we tried to bottle feed him (4 weeks- 4 months) and now he just chews the nipple and moves on to another toy. We have had success with VERY watered down rice cereal and spooing that down his throat when I've had to be away for work for the day.

All the doctors in the world will tell you, "oh a hungry baby will eventually take a bottle and No baby will starve itself." Owen has stamina like you can't believe. He'll hold out ALL DAY until I get home. We frankly I didn't want to put any care-giver (namely my husband) through a 24 hour fight ending in the baby "giving up" and sucking down a bottle from pure exhaustion and hunger. That didn't sound real humane to me.

Last thought... no one ever told men to hook a machine (manual or electric) to their 'male parts', no, they don't have to look down only to hear "the pump sound." But this, ladies, is one of the many, many joys of being a woman. Suck it up. no pun intended.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Solid Foods (and Poop) | Super Baby Food | How to make baby food

So despite that Owen was not 6 months yet, he had teeth (4 months, I KNOW, I KNOW) and because he wouldn't drink from a bottle and I had to be away from him a few times during month five, we decided to pump some breast milk and mix it with rice cereal (Earth's Best Organic brand). He loved it. Knowing that I really didn't want his sweet smelling baby poops to change just yet and realizing that breastfeeding exclusively until 6 months was a goal of mine, I chose to introduce solid foods slowly and irregularly. When he approached his 6 month birthday (the last 10 days) I began to give Owen at least 2 solid food feedings a day, sometimes three. I would follow the four day rule (introduce new foods one at a time and wait four days before introducing something else so you can predict what, if anything is bothering your child's digestive system). Knowing virtually NOTHING of solid foods and not getting great of advice from the pediatrician's office, drove me to look at my growing baby book library. Ah yes, my friend had given me the book Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron. Great ideas in this book, but so much to read that it's impossible to pick and choose chapters, one really must read from cover to cover. This book is the authority on making baby food. She has LITERALLY exhausted every possible question or topic within this genre.

So, the day has come... solid poop. Yes, friends, it's here and it seems it's here to stay. I even got to see a "live demonstration" on the changing table the other day. Incredible display of the human body... a few grunts some flush cheeks (facial ones) and voila! More baby poop than I ever thought my little 16.5 pound dude was capable of. GOOD NEWS: it's easy to pop the poop off the cloth diaper and into the toilet (65% of the time) BAD NEWS: it's hard to pop the poop off the diaper and into the toilet (35% of the time).

Here's my summary of Ruth's method for 6 month old eaters:
1) bust out your Cuisinart (forget the blender, folks, it doesn't cut the mustard-ah hem--grains) My mini prep bought at a yard sale for $5.00 works great, although I COVET the Vitamix blender in a way that cannot be quantified... I WANT IT BAD.
2) blend (separately silly) avocado, mango, banana, yams (cook yams in oven in foil for 1 hour)
3) dump puree into little ice cube trays
4) put ice cube trays into the freezer
5) next morning, pop little cubes into a 1qt freezer bag, and store in freezer
6) defrost cubes and feed to baby...mmmmm

I defrost mine the night before in a little plastic Tupperware and in the AM, I mix with either store bought WHOLE grain rice cereal (Earth's Best) + breast milk or into the Super Baby Porridge I make from Millet, whole oats or brown rice. Super Baby Porridge is the staple morning goop that you feed your baby. As they get older you can mix in all sorts of stuff: egg yolk, brewers yeast, beans, etc.

To make Super Baby Porridge:
1) blend 1/4 cup brown rice or whole oats (or 3 tbs millet) in Cuisinart -- 2 minutes... create yourself a powder... no lumps, no bumps. (baby will make funny face if you don't follow this direction).
2) boil 1 cup water
3) sprinkle rice, oat or millet powder into boiling water, turn down to LOW LOW
4) break out the that metal thingy that whips stuff and beat that mixture up
5) cook 10 minutes
6) divide into 3 portions and save for morning goop...yummy
**I have to re-blend mine in the Cuisinart one last time after it's cooked to make it even smoother or Owen give me the funny face and no food is swallowed**

The stuff in the jar is good, especially the organic stuff, but I take pride in making my little man some "real food" and hey, this might be my only baby, and I always wanted to make baby food... so I'm having fun and Ruth says her babies were NEVER sick and I believe firmly you are what you eat, so Owen is going to be a big old YAM-BANANA-PEAR-WHOLE-GRAIN-AVOCADO-- at least that's what his poop is telling me. If you want to live a long time, one should listen to one's poop.

Owen eats 1-2 cubes three times a day + one serving of porridge

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tommy, Tommy, Tommy

Tommy loves records, Tommy loves Mommy & Daddy, Tommy loves Curious George. My pal, Mary Jessica, who used to be my favorite reporter when I worked at the Athens Banner-Herald, has been kind enough to contribute to my baby business blog. While I was in Athens last month I photographed her precious boy. To all you mommies out there I know how hard it is to snap that shutter fast enough to catch a two year old. Practically impossible without a professional camera. Good thing for f-stop 1.2 and my 85. I can't love that lens enough.