Mama Knows Breast

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Happy Meal

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There are certain meals you’ll always remember. Both good and bad. Good– lobsters from a Maine clamshack; steak frites from a fancy New York restaurant. Bad– salmon croquettes and something I ate that landed me in the ER. So how about the kids? We all know they develop refined food preferences pretty quickly.
As for the Titty Bear, he just had his very first meal that was OTB, or “off the boob.” He reached the six month milestone and so it was time for some rice cereal. The Bortski (our two year old) actually had his first rice cereal at four months. But since then, the pediatrician’s recommendations for first solids have changed. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends exclusive breastfeeding (ie. NOTHING, but breastmilk) for the first six months. So, that’s what we did this time around.
The Titty Bear turned six months a couple of weeks ago, but it took me a little while to get the stars aligned for his big culinary adventure. First we had to get the thumbs up from the pediatrician, then I wanted to give him a couple of days to get over his shots, then we were traveling to visit relatives. Once things settled down, it was time to set him up in the high chair.
Day 1, Attempt 1: After a very sleep deprived night (but that’s another story altogether), stumble into kitchen blinking in bright lights. Bortski is already seated “like a growm-up” at the table with DaDa having oatmeal. Wrangle the Titty Bear into the high chair. Bortski immediately wants back into the high chair. Go figure. Pour rice cereal into bowl. Add water. Notice an odd looking brown clump. Dump the mixture in the sink. Start to pour another bowl. Think twice. Dump the whole box of cereal in the trash.
Day 1, Attempt 2: Now we’re cooking. Bortski is fine about ceding his throne to the Titty Bear. In fact, he is wearing a paper crown he got at an arts and crafts class at a book store. “I’m a Prince,” he says, from his seat at the table. Titty Bear starts to suck on the high chair tray. Make the rice mixture. Put spoon to his mouth. Titty Bear looks shocked. Offended even. He starts to shake. Is something seriously wrong? Determine he is fine. Continue feeding. “I ate the whole thing!”
Day 2: The Titty Bear loves it. Cereal is all over his face. His hands. He tries to pick up the bowl. Afterwards, flat out refuses to breastfeed. Do we have a problem here?
Day 3: Not so interested.
Day 4. I think this thing is working. Titty Bear eats his cereal. Breastfeeds to wash it down. And promptly takes a nap. Still sleeping 2+ hours later. Go check that he’s still breathing.
So will the Titty Bear remember these very first meals? If he’s anything like the Bortski, some day he’ll look at the rice cereal and say “blech.” But just in case, I have pictures to show him how much he loved it. Now, if I could just get this crusty mess out of my hair.

Caffeine and Breast Feeding

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To caffeinate or not to caffeinate, that is the question…
Here’s a mom’s dilemna for you. You need to take your baby on a long car ride. You’re the one driving. And you are tired. I’m not talking, regular old, need to get a little more sleep tired. I’m talking bone tired, afraid you’re going to drive your car off the road tired. Tired like…all of a sudden you realize you’re at a certain stretch of the highway and you don’t remember the previous ten miles. Tired like…you’re sitting in a really boring class room lecture and you feel yourself doing the head bob.
This was my challenge recently. The “Titty Bear” (for those of you just joining this blog, that’s our six month old) has stopped sleeping through the night. He was a rock star sleeper from 11 weeks through 4.5 months. He would sleep uninterrupted from 6 pm to 6 am. In fact, he was such a good sleeper I often put a hand on his chest to make sure he was still breathing. Well, those days are over. In fact, they’ve been over for the past month and a half. For some reason, he is back to waking up during the night at least once. Of course, I jump up right away to stop the crying for fear that he’ll wake up “The Bortski” (a/k/a our two year old). And the only thing that will calm him down is some boob. A ten minute snack and he’s snoozing peacefully again. Happy as can be. I, on the other hand, am a zombie. The pediatrician is encouraging me to do a little sleep training for the baby. We’re getting ready to do something. Anything, just so I can sleep for six hours, at least, uninterrupted. We just haven’t done it yet. But that’s another story for another time.
Meanwhile, I still have to function. And last weekend that meant driving 200 miles to visit family. So here’s the dilemna: Do I try to tough it out without a turbo charge and cross my fingers that I won’t have to pull over to rest? Or do I down a cup of coffee in the morning, a coke mid-ride, and an then an extra large, dark chocolate, Hershey’s bar along the route?
So what’s the big deal? Well, if I have caffeine, the Titty Bear may get his own turbo charged snack next time I breastfeed him, and who knows what in the world THAT will do to his sleeping schedule. Plus, all that coffee and coke will make me have to pee. And not just once. Of course that means pulling over at a rest stop, waking two sleeping babies, wrangling one into the stroller, strapping the other into the Baby Bjorn, dragging the three of us into the bathroom and finding a stall big enough to hold the stroller while I perch over the seat with the baby dangling off my chest.
Here’s what eventually happened. “Dada” (a/k/a my husband) was able to join us for the ride. So that elimated the bathroom dilemna. But I did have to drive (for a variety of reasons that I can’t go into right now), so I went the caffeine route. As for the Titty Bear, his sleep is still messed up.
So what do the experts say about caffeine and breastfeeding? Most say that one cup of coffee isn’t a problem. But beware…caffeine can make some babies irritable and it can accumulate in their system over time. Here’s an answer from La Leche League. Here’s another answer from the breastfeeding site KellyMom.
What do you do? Caffeinate or not? Share your stories.

Question From A New Mom– Any Advice for Her?

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If there’s one things we moms know, it’s pain. Our backs hurt when we’re pregnant. Childbirth is… well you fill in the blank with whatever adjective you’d like. And then, sometimes, breastfeeding can have its ups and downs.
One mom wrote to me asking if people had some advice for a problem she’s having now. She’s going to check with her midwife to see what’s going on. But in the meantime, she wanted to know what all of you out there had to say. Here’s what she wrote:
“I’ve got an eleven week old and we’ve been breastfeeding without too many problems, only over the last week or so, I’ve got this painful white spot on one nipple. When it first appears, I’ve got some sore, swollen breast tissue in the area of the spot. The soreness goes away after several good nursings, but the blister doesn’t go away and continues to be sensitive, if not painful. I’m soaking it and using compresses before nursing, trying to nurse and pump frequently. It’s appeared twice, once last week, and it went away in a couple of days, but now it’s back. It’s not too bothersome, but I would be interested to know what other women have done to deal with them.”
So calling all mamas, any thoughts for our friend?

The Key Players on Mama Knows Breast

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A few months ago, I wrote a guide to the key players, the people you’ll meet, here on Mama Knows Breast. Since many of you are joining now for the first time, I thought I’d do an updated version.
Mama: That’s me. A 37 year old mother of two boys under two. As of today, one is 2 years old and the other is six months old. I haven’t slept (really slept) since December of 2003. That’s when I got pregnant the first time.
DaDa: Obviously, of course, this is Mama’s husband. To get the best sense of this name, envision a two year old begging to be let out of his room, at 6 in the morning, plaintively repeating, “Da-Da, please help. Hey, Da-da, please help. Come get me, Dada.”
Bortski: That’s the two year old. We came up with his nickname one day when he was a baby and had a little cold. He was making all sorts of snorting noises through his stuffed nose. He thus became “Snortsky.” Over time, this evolved to “Bortski.” Of course, we do call him by his real name too.
The Titty Bear: This is our six month old. He’s still breastfeeding, hence the nickname.
Nana Funny Socks: This is Mama’s mama. Bortski started to call her Nana Funny Socks after observing her stocking knee-highs. Quite glamorous, I’m sure he thought.
Big: This is Mama’s mama’s mama. In other words, Mama’s grandmother. Or in other words, Nana Funny Socks’ mama. Bortski gave her the nickname. She was the “big” nana, ie. the older nana. For a while she was Nana Big, then just “Big.”
Papa Peekaboo: DaDa’s dada. He likes to play peekaboo. He’s a newlywed, often seen hanging out with his wife “Toto.” Again, Bortski created nicknames.
Papa Harry: Mama’s dada. He goes with his wife Carol and their cat Mimi. This Mimi is not to be confused with “Mimi,” the stuffed animal the Bortski sleeps with every night.
Uncle Hey Dude and Auntie Ca-Ca: Mama’s brother and sister in law. My brother taught the Bortski to say “Hey Dude.”
Uncle Spaulding and Aunti Ga-Ga: Dada’s brother and sister in law. Uncle Spaulding is a nickname Dada gave his brother years ago. It’s a long story but has something to do, I think, with the movie Caddy Shack.

Way To Go Toys “R” Us

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A New York mom says she was harassed by Toys “R” Us employees for breastfeeding her 7 month old son in the Times Square store. Chelsi Meyerson said employees tried to get her to go somewhere else to feed her baby. When she refused, she said they summoned a security guard. The store says employees only offered a private room and did not call a guard.
New York State law allows breastfeeding in most public places. Meyerson, with backing from the American Civil Liberties Union, is demanding an apology and compensation.
Here’s a press release from the ACLU.
Here’s a story from UPI.
Personally, I’ve had to feed both of my kids in “kids” stores many times. These stores are populated by parents, grandparents and other caregivers after all. They’ve seen it all before. And I’m sure they’d choose a little discreet breastfeeding over a screaming, inconsolable baby.

Similac Recall

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Similac has voluntary recalled hundreds of thousands of bottles of ready to feed infant formula because they may not have enough Vitamin C.
The recall is for approximately 100,000 32-ounce plastic bottles of Similac Alimentum Advance liquid formula and approximately 200,000 bottles of Similac Advance with Iron. Some hospital discharge kits are affected as well.
The problem seems to be that the bottles are missing a special layer that keeps air out. When the oxygen enters the bottle, it causes the level of vitamin C to decrease over time.
Abbott, the maker of Similac, says there have been no serious medical complaints. But the concern is that if infants drink formula without enough vitamin C for two to four weeks, they could show symptoms of vitamin C deficiency such as irritability with generalized tenderness.
Here is a news story from The New York Times.
You can find the company press release on the Similac website. Look for it at the bottom of the home page. There is a short sentence which says click here for information on the voluntary recall.

21st Century Mama

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I’ve never done this blog thing before. In fact, I’m actually a very “analog” person. I don’t own an iPod. I can barely program the TIVO. I don’t know how to upload photos from our camera to the computer. I’ve taken hours and hours of video, but the tapes are sitting in my desk. And when our babysitter said she would be lost without Facebook, I felt compelled to tell her that I wrote most of my high school papers on a typewriter and went to college before there were cell phones.
And yet, this blog thing is becoming addictive. So here’s something I’ve learned so far: it’s cool when another blog references your blog. This happened to me yesterday. A blog called The Lactivist wrote a post about “Mama Knows Breast.” You should check out this site. The author has some really hilarious t-shirts for sale. Here are a few examples of the t-shirt slogans. For moms, there’s: “Milk Jugs.” For babies, there’s “nip/suck.” And for dad’s, there’s “I Play With My Baby’s Food.” Hilarious, right?!
So humor me while I learn this blog thing. Your suggestions of ways to improve the site are welcome. I leave you now to check my Filofax and use my land line to call 411.

Welcome to Mama Knows Breast

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Welcome to Mama Knows Breast– a blog for all things breastfeeding. Whether you breastfeed for one day, one week or one year, you’ll find something fun here. The site will have breastfeeding news, tips, products, anecdotes and advice from other moms. Plus, I’ll throw in stories of my own adventures as a new mom.
I’ll tell you about the time I put my already-chewed bubble gum in my pants pocket while breastfeeding. I’ll describe my technique for breastfeeding one baby while chasing a toddler around the playground. And I’ll compile a list of the best public breastfeeding places. Top of my list– the pedicure chair in a beauty salon. Along the way I’ll also shamelessly promote my book, “Mama Knows Breast: A Beginner’s Guide to Breastfeeding,” which will be published by Quirk Books in the fall of 2007.
In the meantime, this blog is my baby. Well, not my real baby…I’ve got two of those. One is two years old and the other is five months. You’ll meet them here under the affectionate nicknames, the “Bortskerini” and “The Titty Bear.” You’ll also meet my husband, a/k/a “Dada.”
So look for weekly updates and tell your friends about this site. And if you’re like me, new to this whole blog thing, here are a couple of tips. You can leave a Comment on a post by clicking on “Comments” at the bottom of the entry. You can also sign up to get an alert when I’ve written a new post by going to “Subscribe” on the tool bar. And if you prefer old fashioned email, send me your own stories about breastfeeding or bottlefeeding at

Way to Go Vanity Fair—The Suri Scoop

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As I’ve said, it’s not breastfeeding news, but I can’t help myself. Like many others, I’ve been fascinated by the baby Suri story. I couldn’t wait for my October issue of Vanity Fair to arrive, so I bought a copy at a newsstand. The reward— ok, so I got to see the very first public photos of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ baby. But what did I really get? An incredibly disappointing piece of “journalism.” What a waste of money.
I’ve been a Vanity Fair fan for years. In fact, I worked for a Conde Nast publication after graduating college. (I was a fact checker at Conde Nast Traveler). While Vanity Fair has it’s share of fluff, and a viewpoint to be sure, I always felt that the journalism wasn’t so bad. Well, not this piece.
For twenty-two pages we get to see some beautiful Annie Liebovitz photographs. But there’s not one ounce of interesting news. There’s nothing about Cruise’s public feud with Brooke Shields about her battle with post-partum depression; nothing about his Scientology faith; nothing about his recent split with Paramount Pictures. Sure, we read that Tom is a doting dad and that Katie is upset about all the rumors in the media. But the whole week-long gathering of the extended Holmes and Cruise clans at Tom’s 400 acre retreat in Telluride, CO seems little more than a P.R. stunt. The reporter spent “the good part of a week” there and this is all she got?
So what did I learn from the story? Here’s a quote for you: “Most mornings, everyone tries to be the first to pick up the baby from her crib or to offer her a morning bottle.” Is breast milk or formula in there? Maybe I’ll write a letter to the editor of VF to find out. In the meantime, anyone want my subscription copy when it finally arrives?

Letters to The New York Times

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You may recall the recent New York Times story about how hard it is for working moms to breastfeed, especially moms who don’t have “white collar” jobs. As the article pointed out, white collar workers have an easier time pumping because they often have privates offices or even designated lactation rooms. “Blue collar” workers often find their jobs incompatible with breastfeeding, and their employers unsupportive. ( I wrote about this story on September 4).
These Letters to the Editor reaffirm the primary point of the article. They emphasize the need for employers, and even the government, to foster an environment that makes it easier to pump, or even breastfeed, at work.