Exclusive Pumpers, this one's for you


Get comfortable— for the next few blog posts, I want to focus on infant feeding.

Before a baby is born, we have the best intentions to breastfeed. It's biologically normal and most people are able to learn how to do it with the right help. But it's not that simple.

There are two parties involved when it comes to breastfeeding, parent and baby. And while we get to know our baby from the inside of our bodies for roughly nine/ten months, we don't know in advanced what challenges might await until baby latches…or doesn't.

No parent, after a baby is born and says, “I can't wait to hook my boobs up to a machine to pull the milk out,” but for some of us, that's what we have to do.

From lip ties to tongue ties to returning to work, many mothers have to contend with electric and manual pumps.

I, myself, have been manually pumping for going on ten months! That's right. My hands are SO strong now (and uh…arthritic). Below is one mother's very difficult journey into Exclusively Pumping. What. A. Badass.


Exclusively Pumping; Exclusively out of Desperation

I planned to breastfeed throughout my pregnancy. I got a pump through my insurance company but I planned to nurse my baby exclusively when I wasn’t working. I was looking forward to the bonding experience and selfishly, I was looking forward to being able to say, “Hey look! Not only did I birth that but I can feed him, too! How amazing am I?” 

Then he was born. He latched right away (or so I thought). But a few hours later he was screaming. Lactation consultants were there to help and assured me we would figure it out. “Just keep trying,” they said. I hooked up to a breast pump for the first time 15 hours after giving birth. “It will help your milk come in,” they said. 

I sat in that hospital bed and pumped for the first time watching my husband bond with and feed my child with (gasp!) formula. 15 hours and I had already failed.

My milk came in and things were looking up, but he still didn’t consistently latch. He cried. I cried. Day after day. After a couple weeks and little weight gain I packed us up and we went to see a lactation consultant at the hospital. Diagnosis: lip tie + tongue tie. We had the tongue tie snipped, but he and I just couldn’t figure out the whole breastfeeding thing. 

My baby was hungry and losing weight. I actually had an oversupply of milk so I made the only decision that made sense – become an EP. Exclusive Pumper. Problem solved, right?

Wrong. My postpartum mind made me resentful. I resented my baby for not being able to latch. What kind of mother resents their baby? So I resented myself for that. I made my husband do every bottle feed and I pumped for the duration of the feed. I told myself that it was to keep a regimented schedule and maintain supply but honestly, I couldn’t bring myself to hold a bottle for my baby. So I resented my husband while he fed and bonded with my baby. These were dark times. It was months before my postpartum mind cleared enough for me to be able to forgive myself and feed my own baby with a bottle.

I returned to work and fell into a 4-pumps-a-day routine: 5am, 10am, 3pm, 8pm. I followed this strict schedule every day for 18 months – weekends, holidays, and vacations included.

There were moments I was positive my machine was shouting expletives at me with its rhythmic pulsing. “Fuck you, too,” I’d whisper back.

Please be assured that I don’t hate myself or resent my baby anymore. if you’re feeling similarly to how I felt, please get help. 

EPing is hard but it’s doable under the right circumstances.

A few things in my favor:

  1. A devoted partner. He’s seriously the real MVP

  2. I responded well to a pump.

  3. A respectful, accommodating, & understanding workplace.

  4. An office with a door/pumping room

Places I’ve pumped:

  1. Home

  2. Others’ homes

  3. Work

  4. Parked cars

  5. Moving cars

  6. Bathrooms

  7. Parks 

  8. Retail center parking lots 


First of all, thank you Brittany for your honesty and willingness to share. There are more dedicated moms like Brittany out there, silently fighting the good fight with their pumps. Secondly, it is important to get help, as a new parent, when we feel like the postpartum blues continue—like maybe what we are experiencing is more than a fog. I’m glad Brittany mentioned this. Mood disorders are more common than we think. People just aren’t reporting them! Please, get help. It’s hard enough to juggle expectations with reality. You shouldn’t have to also battle yourself .

3 Easy Crock-Pot Meals for Those Postpartum Days

Postpartum parent? Busy mama? Working parent? Single Parent? Anyone too busy to make a meal? I got you.

Here are my three favorite, minimal ingredient recipes you can just toss into a crock pot and walk away from.

Mongolian Steak

The give-me-iron-please recipe you didn’t know you needed.

If you need some red meat in your life, this is going to make your mouth water. All you need is some flank steak, green onions, some shredded carrots, some sauces you probably already have in your fridge, and you’re good to go! Somehow the ginger, Sriracha, soy sauce, etc marries into this delicious, tangy recipe.

Macaroni and Cheese

Postpartum comfort food sent down from the cheese gods.

You can find MANY Mac n Cheese recipes on the internet with Velveeta. This one uses cream cheese, and it makes all the difference. This recipe isn’t exactly, ahem healthy, but nothing hits the spot like comfort food, especially when it is easy to make. All you need is macaroni noodles, a few different kinds of cheese, evaporated milk, whole milk, and some spices (annnnndddddd if you have green onions left over from the Mongolian Beef—boom, garnish. You’re welcome).

Meatballs

The three ingredient holy-crap-where-have-you-been meatballs you can eat easily with one hand.

Grape Jelly. BBQ Sauce. Bag of frozen meatballs. Go. I want to meet whoever first took their chance on mixing together jelly and BBQ sauce and shake their hand. This recipe is so easy and very freezable (and un-freezable) for those mamas like me who like to graze constantly throughout the day.

I am not a chef, which is why these recipes are so great. Any schmo can put some ingredients together. All you need is a ClickList order at Kroger (or Instacart Delivery) and about 10-20 minutes to throw some ingredients into the crockpot.

The role of a Postpartum Doula is to get new parents into a comfortable routine of life with a new addition to the family. People think of us when they need newborn care and recovery from birth, but we can also swoop in to help make sure you are eating! Go on over to the Services page to see a list of what we can provide.

Don’t forget to nourish that postpartum body!

Don’t forget to nourish that postpartum body!

What I wish I had known About Breastfeeding

In a perfect world, I would make CERTAIN my mamas, who want to breastfeed, are equipped with the knowledge and tools to do so immediately after birth through to the end of their breastfeeding relationship/goal. Sadly, there are many hurdles that women face the moment they have their babies—the biggest one being lack of education prior to the start of nursing. Below I will impart the wisdom I have learned from experience and ongoing education.

The Importance of the Golden Hour

No matter how baby comes out (and emergency C-sections can but don’t always present a challenge during this time frame, depending on hospital policy), the first 60-90 minutes are the most important when establishing the first latch. Baby recognizes mom by left-behind amniotic smells and is most alert and ready to make his or her way towards the breast. Your hormones throughout pregnancy that made your areolas so dark? They coursed through your body to make your breasts easier for baby to find! They’re like targets! What I’m trying to say is babies are smarter and stronger than we give them credit for. If we allow them to have an hour after birth on mother’s chest, they will usually latch on their own with almost no help at all. You can watch videos of this on Youtube. It’s incredible.

Miss this window of time? It’s ok. Don’t fret. Baby becomes sleepy and may just need a little extra support to latch when he or she awakes. That’s what Lactation Consultants are for!

Hand Expression

It is empowering and extremely helpful to know how to hand express. You’ll never have to panic if you lose your pump or a part breaks or if baby goes on a nursing strike. Like any skill, practice makes perfect. It took me months to perfect this. Also another great job for a Lactation Consultant!

Feed often

You might have been told that milk comes in a supply and demand way. This is true. If baby isn’t eating, your breast doesn’t know to make milk. Feeding baby often helps the breasts empty and get the message to make more milk. Babies also nurse for many other reasons than hunger. They nurse for comfort, for sleep, belly aches, to bond and more. Breastfeeding is also helpful to mama.

Breastfeeding releases Oxytocin, which studies have shown help reduce mood disorders.

Warm compresses and dangle-feeding for clogs

Before I discovered that my body didn’t respond to electric pumps, I got golf ball sized clogs on the regular. I sought help desperately and often. The best piece of advice I got was—at first sign of clog, slap a warm compress on the breast, massage, then dangle feed. Read more at Kellymom, my fave resource.

TALK ABOUT IT, TALK ABOUT IT, TALK ABOUT IT

There is no doubt about it—Breastfeeding is one of the hardest things to do and our culture makes it harder by silencing and shaming women. The more we talk about this, the less of a stigma it may become. Exposure is the first step to challenging this norm.

Please remember, mama, it aint easy. You’re doing great!

Have more questions on feeding your infant? Send Rae a message.

What I wish I had Known About Breastfeeding.png

Postpartum Doula or Night Nanny or Baby Nurse?

In the wee hours of Postpartum exhaustion, you might have Googled, “Help me at night with my newborn!!!!” to see results for Night Nannies and Baby Nurses and Doulas. So what are they and how exactly do they differ from Postpartum Doulas?

To put it simply, a Night Nanny can be anyone who is paid to come over at night to help with a newborn. This person may have many years of experience and be quite adept at offering tips and tricks. They might even know how to gasp sleep train! However, Night Nannies do not need to carry any certification, which means if there is an emergency situation, they might not be trained to help. Because of this, not every Night Nanny might be qualified to put a mind at ease.

A Baby Nurse is a bit more evasive. In big cities like Boston and LA, you can find someone to come into your home as a Newborn Care Specialist. Perhaps they worked as a Labor and Delivery Nurse at some point. With the title nurse, they should be medically able to monitor baby and mom, which can set many new families at ease. With that being said, not everyone titled “Baby Nurse” is an actual nurse! Some agencies call their contractors Baby Nurses when they are really just Night Nannies. If you see on an Agency website that a Baby Nurse can stay with a family for an extended period of time, night and day, they might actually be a nanny.

A Postpartum Doula is trained and certified to come into your home after the baby is born to help establish care routines like bath time, bedtime, and feeding. We can help mom and dads get sleep by watching the baby in the wee-hours of the night. We can identify feeding issues, mood disorders, and get parents to the right medically trained care professionals. A Postpartum Doula does not stay with families for an extended period of time like a nanny, though they do prefer to be booked in multi-hour increments. Postpartum doulas typically have a different focus than Nannies. We prefer to cultivate an environment where parents can bond with babies, as opposed to coming into the home and taking over the newborn care, which means we prioritize parents well being as much as baby's. It is these qualities that makes Postpartum doulas in high demand these days!

No matter who you are looking for to help, you want to ask your potential care professional the right questions. Below is a really good start!

What is their experience?

Are they doula certified through an agency that is reputable?

Are they CPR certified?

Do they ask questions to learn your expectations and needs?

Gut Check- Do you feel relieved and safe?

ProDoula has an excellent and more specific explanation of what Postpartum Doulas do on their blog. You can read it here!

We’re looking out for you, mamas and papas!

...and the winning bottle goes to...

Well it isn’t that simple, unfortunately. If one bottle was unanimously better than the others, that’s all we would have to buy at Target and on Amazon. Fortunately there are a lot of good bottles for different babies and their very real preferences. Below I’ve have explored some options so you don’t have to. I’ve written just a brief summary about each bottle. Enjoy!

First and foremost—WHEN to introduce a bottle is half of the secret. Waiting too long to introduce one and baby won’t be as willing (they’ll prefer the breast). There is a sweet spot around the 6th week of life. Around that time, mom and baby have established a breastfeeding bond. A bottle then won’t impede the that relationship, 9 times out of 10. This is what I recommend mamas do before going back to work, to those who just want to get away for an hour or two, and for dads who want to feed baby too. This also allows for enough time for parents to figure out which bottles work and which won’t.

The next issue is HOW to feed. Many bottles, no matter what brand, do not have a slow flow. It’s the nipple that controls flow. A bottle that flows too quickly gets baby the milk faster than mom (and this is one reasons baby may prefer a bottle over mama—faster milk!). A way to slow down the feeding without worrying about bottles or nipples is to Pace Bottle Feed. You can watch a video on how to do that here.

Ok, now onto the bottles. Thank you for your patience. There are so many bottles, but only a few worth talking about. Let’s break them down.

A few bottle with valves, odd shapes, and other gimmicks-

Munchkin Latch- Design kills the performance in this one. This bottle has an anti-colic blue valve at the bottom to regulate flow. Not only does this bottle have a tendency to leak if you put it in the warmer, the nipple is so soft it collapses easily on a vigorous eater.

Tommee Tippee- This bottle is compact, easy to clean because of its wide mouth (the gimmicky shape is an advantage here!), and doesn’t have extra parts that aren’t difficult to clean or assemble.

Dr. Browns- Although this bottle touts minimizing air entering the baby’s mouth, there are just too many small, hard-to-clean moveable parts to make that feature worth while. This bottle takes a while to assemble and is not fun to take on the go. With that being said, it has been my go-to. As a new mom, I bought into anything that would minimize those colicky, gassy screams post-meal. In hindsight, it didn’t help my daughter swallowing air!

Avent- Voted top bottle by Babylist, Today’s Parents, and many other magazines. It is easy to assemble, easy to find, and reasonably priced.

Bottles that come with your pump-

Medela and Spectra- Very simple bottles, cheap and they come with your pump! The spectra lids do not fit very well on the bottle and loosen on their own causing spills. The Medela model leaks from the nipple, and it collapses mid-feeding as well, which I obviously don’t need to say is frustrating for all parties involved.

Bottles with bags-

Kiinde and other bottles, where the bag is inserted are not actually easier and less time-consuming feeding methods. If anything Kiinde and other bottles like it are harder. These bottles only work with one kind of bag and those bags are expensive. They work only in the kiinde bottle warmer. The bag leaves some milk behind that’s difficult to suck out for baby. If all of those excite you, this is the right bottle!

Verdict- For parents who don’t know where to begin, don’t want to spend too much, or solve a puzzle when standing over their sink, the answer is Tommy Tippee or Avent. The rest seems to be more work than they’re worth!

Bottles not mentioned are Comotomo, Mam, among many others.

Today’s Parent wrote a similar article, explored more bottles, and came to some different conclusions. Read more here!

Photocredit to Today’s Parent

Photocredit to Today’s Parent

Source: https://www.todaysparent.com/product-revie...