Mama Knows Breast

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More Funny Breast Feeding T-Shirts (and Some Stylish Nursing Shawls)

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I just found this, via Celebrity Baby…t-shirts for you and your nursing babe to wear at the same time. You get the shirt that says “Supply.” She gets the shirt that says “Demand.” Cute, huh?!
The shirts are made by Milkdudz (another clever one). The company also sells some of the more stylish nursing shawls I’ve seen. I haven’t tested them, and I can’t vouch for buying anything from the site. So if you give it a shot, let me know how it goes.
As for me, my boobs are turning into true milk duds. I’m continuing to wean The Bear, and I have just barely enough left in the supply department for one feeding each morning.
And finally, thank you to everyone who has been sending me suggestions of mom websites, blogs, shows and magazines that they like. With your help I’m compiling a great list of folks to contact about my book! Keep the ideas coming!

Looking for PR Ideas For My Book

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I just Fed Ex’ed another set of revisions to my publisher. Two down, one more to go. Now I have a long author questionnaire that I need to fill out for the marketing department. Part of this involves writing a list of websites, blogs, and media outlets that might want to write about the book.
Since there are literally thousands and thousands of sites that we moms visit, this task feels a little daunting. I know what I know…but I don’t know what I don’t know.
So if anyone has suggestions, send them my way. Let me know what sites you like; what magazines you read; what TV shows you watch. I’ll add them to my list. I need all the help I can get!
In advance, thank you for your support.

Weaning a 12 Month Old– Update

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We’ve made a lot of progress here. It’s been almost two weeks since I started weaning The Bear. First, we dropped the 11:00 am feeding. I did that for a whole week, substituting sippy cups of formula. Then we dropped the afternoon nibbling– 2:30 and 4:00 ish. It’s been a week now of no breastfeeding during the day time, and so far so good.
We’re still getting up around 4:45/5:00 a.m., for a 20 minute snack, but then he goes right back to sleep until his roommate starts making noise around 7:00. “Dad, Dad, Come in Dad…Dad, Dad…”
At The Bear’s 12 month check-up the pediatrician said he can have whole milk now, instead of formula. I’m excited about that. That formula smells funky and man, it’s expensive.
I’m not sure how long I’ll hang onto the early morning nursing sessions. It’s a sweet, quiet time of the day for the two of us. Of course I’m delirious, and quite honestly, I’d rather be asleep, but I may not be ready to give it up yet. He, however, might be fine.
So how have I been weaning? Basically I’ve been trying to do it gradually, dropping one feeding at a time. I’ve substituted a cup at the times he would have fed, and if he won’t take it, I don’t force it on him. I avoid sitting in the spots where we used to nurse (the rocking chair and sofa). I’ve tried to distract him if he seems annoyed, going for walks or doing other activities. I’ve also had other people (my husband, my mom and a babysitter) give him the cup.
If you’re looking for information about weaning, check out Kelly Mom and Dr. Sears.

Mother load– Go See This Show If You’re in New York

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So I was surfing around YouTube, typed in breastfeeding and came across something that made me laugh so hard I actually started to cry. It’s a video trailer for a one woman show called Mother Load. Actress Amy Wilson tackles the ups and downs of being a mom to two boys under two in high pressure Manhattan. Please, watch this clip. And if you happen to be in New York between April 21st and June 16th, consider seeing the show. I can’t totally vouch for it yet, because I haven’t seen it. But from the looks of this– I think it’s bound to make every mom laugh at the absurdity of some of the things we stress about. Here’s a New York Times review.


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I’m planning The Bear’s first birthday. A family brunch, complete with– what else– a bear shaped cake that I’m going to try to make myself. Wish me luck.
More importantly, wish me luck on something much bigger. I’ve started to wean him. I’m sure some of you are thinking…one year, it’s about time. While others may say, one year, why not keep going?
The decision, in part, is a practical one. I’m starting to do more video production work outside of the house and I need the freedom. Also, I’m just plain tired. I’ve been pregnant or breastfeeding since December of 2003. That’s when I got pregnant with The Bortski. I weaned him when he was 11 months old because I got pregnant. I know some people breastfeed through pregnancy, and then continue to tandem feed their toddler and newborn. But it wasn’t for me.
Even though I’m ready, I’m feeling nostalgic about it. For a week now I’ve dropped one feeding, the 11 am one. We went straight to a sippy cup, instead of a bottle, given his age. And lo and behold, the first time I handed him the cup, he started drinking right away, like he knew exactly what to do. He’d never had a bottle or a cup before, only breast, so I was shocked. You mean I’m that dispensible?
I’d like to chalk it up to the fact that he has an older brother who he watches drink from a cup. Either that or he’s quite talented! We all know how hard it usually is to get a breastfed baby to take a bottle or cup. The Bortski had a rough time of it when we weaned him. I thought he would get dehydrated he was so defiant about the whole thing.
But not The Bear. He’s been drinking from that cup like a champ. Even so, it has been a rough week. His nap schedule has been all messed up. Instead of his usual two naps, morning and afternoon, he was down to one. Today, however, he seems to have settled back into his old routine.
So we’ll see where we go from here. The afternoon feeding comes next. The question is, am I ready to wean myself?

Milk Shortage at Colorado Milk Bank

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I first saw this story over at the Motherwear Breastfeeding blog
The Mothers’ Milk Bank in Colorado desparately needs donations. Their supplies are running low. That poses a serious risk for babies like 6 month old Julia Lam, who is getting donated breast milk while she undergoes chemotherapy.
To see Julia’s story, you can watch this video from a Denver TV station.
To make a donation, go to the milk bank website or call (303)869-1888 or toll free (877)458-5503. You don’t have to live in Colorado to help out.

ABC’s SuperNanny’s Negative Take on Breast Feeding

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Supernanny needs a “time out” of her own. In Monday’s season finale she sets out to fix the Walker family. One of the alleged chief problems, a 14 month old who, god forbid, is still breast feeding.
The Supernanny says to the mom: “So it really is in your court because I can help you either way. But the decision has to be yours.”
As it turns out, mom wants to wean. She says, “I want to do it. I want to go ahead and try it…I’m ready to wean Alyssa (spelled?). I’ve been wanting to do it for months. I just don’t know how to do. I don’t know how to do it on my own.”
Once the mom says that, the Supernanny’s true feelings come through: “I’m glad that you’ve come to that decision because it show me that you’re ready for personal growth which is good and there will be much benefit for you and Alyssa.”
I could deconstruct this episode for the rest of the night– the negative portrayals of extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping and sling-wearing. But bottom line, I think it’s a shame that the show’s producers depict breastfeeding as something to be avoided. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least one year, and as long after that as the mom wants. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for two years. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set a goal that by 2010, 25% of all moms still breastfeed when their baby is one year old. (Healthy People 2010). As for the babies themselves, some anthropologists think children would self-wean somewhere around 3 and 4 years old.
Beyond this, the show completely ignores the health benefits that come from breastfeeding. Instead, Supernanny turns breastfeeding into something that is simply about the mother-child bond. She asks the mom, “Is the reason you’re still breastfeeding her an emotional one?” The mom answers, “It’s just the feeling of, you know, we love each other, you know.”
Yes, weaning is emotional. I was weepy when I weaned our first son at 11 months and I get teary just thinking about weaning our second son. But come on, Supernanny, you could have at least tipped your hat to the mom for keeping at it for 14 months. It’s no small feat.
Of course whether or not to breastfeed is a matter of personal choice. Breastfeeding works for some women, and not for others. But it’s too bad that Supernanny and ABC didn’t celebrate this mom’s choice, and instead presented it as an obstacle to family harmony.
Go to your “naughty mat,” Supernanny. Good riddance until next season.
And moms if you want some real advice on weaning, try Kellymom. There’s good information about the benefits of extended breastfeeding too.

Breast Feeding Advice: Establishing Your Milk Supply

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Welcome to our monthly breastfeeding carnival. This month, the booby brigade is writing about breastfeeding advice. Good advice. Bad advice and everything in between. At the bottom of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs.
So, now for my two cents. First off, I’d like to do a public service announcement for lactation consultants. As far as I’m concerned, these professionals, the ladies with the IBCLC credentials, are goddesses. These days, whenever a mom asks me for help, I tell her to find an LC. If she’s in New York City, I refer her to The Manhattan Lactation Group. If she’s elsewhere, I suggest she get recommendations from an OB, midwife, pediatrician, hospital or friend. If she can’t come up with any recommendations, I’ll refer her to the International Lactation Consultant Association website. And most importantly, I’ll add that not all LC’s are created equal. They are just like any other professional. There are good plumbers and bad plumbers. Good lawyers and bad lawyers. Good LCs and bad LCs.
Second, I’d like to make a pitch for being a bit obsessive-compulsive shortly after your baby is born. This, I think, is what got me off to a good start with both of our kids. I was udderly (couldn’t resist the pun) fastidious about feeding them every 2 to 3 hours, around the clock, for 24 hours, for a couple of weeks. In practice, that meant that I started a feeding every 2 to 3 hours after I started the last feeding. For example, if I feed the baby at 9:00 am, I fed again at 11:00 am (for 2 hours) or 12:00 (for 3 hours). Of course the schedule wasn’t always so neat; if the baby wanted to eat sooner, then I fed him “on demand.”
As I type this, it sounds insane. So crazy in fact, that I’m not sure I even actually did it. Did I really not sleep for more than a couple of hours at a stretch, for weeks on end?
My husband assures me this is so. He remembers going to our son’s two week check-up. I reportedly handed the pediatrician the meticulous log I had been keeping. The log in which I wrote down the time of day, the length of the feeding, which breast, the number of pees and the number of poops. “Here, this is for your files,” I said to the doctor. “Oh, that’s fine, I don’t really need it. Your baby’s weight is just fine,” he replied.
That was the end of my record keeping. In any case, after a few weeks, both kids started to go longer stretches, eating every 3 to 4 hours. By 12 weeks, they practically slept through the night. Later on, of course, they fell off the wagon and went back to eating in the middle of the night. But that’s another story.
My point is that I think it was my nearly maniacal attention to the feeding schedule that helped me establish my milk supply and get the kids on the right track. If they didn’t wake up on their own, I woke them to eat. If they were still sleepy, I stripped them to their diapers, tickled their cheeks and lips, even dug my fingernail into the heel of their feet. When the hospital nurse wouldn’t release one of the kids from the nursery (because he had been spitting up black stuff), I practically banged down to the door to get in and feed him. I also put a big note on his bassinet saying “No bottles or pacifiers. Only breast milk.”
Honestly, I don’t know if it was this schedule, or sheer luck, that made breastfeeding work. And it was so exhausting, that I’m always afraid to tell pregnant friends what I did, lest they get scared off. Additionally, what worked for me, may not work for everyone. I’m not an LC. Just another mom, who muddled through this breastfeeding thing as best she could.
So that’s my bit of motherly advice. Now, if you want to hear what some other mamas have to say, check out these blogs:
We’ve got the regulars from the Booby Brigade: The Lactivist, Breastfeeding123, the Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog, and Breastfeeding Mums. We’ve also got a bunch of guest bloggers: Black Breastfeeding Blog, Mocha Milk, Cairo Mama, The Twinkies, Random Wonderings, and the Baby Gravy Train.

Read the rest of this entry »

An Update on My Book Mama Knows Breast

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It finally feels real. My editor Melissa showed me a draft of the cover illustration and it’s pretty cool! They’ve hired an illustrator whose work is really hip, colorful and fun. She’s expert at drawing cherubic babies, as well as moms who look like they could handle any dirty diaper thrown at them with aplomb.
And now, I’ve just Fed Ex’ed my corrections to the first layout to my editor. For the past 4 days I’ve been utterly consumed by going over the book line by line. (I had to buy a pencil to do this). I have to say, I’m amazed that every time I read it, I find something to re-write.
Some of you have asked how I got to this point. So here’s a bit of Mama Knows Breast history. It all started in March of 2005 during a family vacation in Miami. I off-handedly commented that since I was breastfeeding, this would perhaps be the only time in my life when I would actually look like all the other bikini-clad buxom babes strutting around. A family member, who has had a long career in book design, responded: “You should write a breastfeeding book!” Hmmm…not a bad idea I thought.
When we got home I spent hours searching the aisles at Barnes & Noble and surfing the internet to see if anyone had written a “hip” guide to breastfeeding. I found plenty of books about breastfeeding. Books that are great if you’re looking for detailed, problem-specific advice. But I didn’t find a book that matched what I had in mind; a book that would give people practical information in a fun, light-hearted manner; the book that I wish someone had given me when I was pregnant and utterly clueless about breastfeeding.
So I wrote a book proposal. I learned how to do this years ago in journalism school from a class taught by renowned author named Sam Freedman. This 50+ page document had a sample chapter and an overview essay that detailed the book’s contents and potential audience.
The proposal was basically a pitch document that I used to find an agent. I sent it to 10+ agents and kept getting rejected. Then a cousin told me about her friend Abby who was writing a book called The Crafty Mamas: Book of 50 Fast, Fabulous and Foolproof Projects for Baby Gear. I met Abby and she introduced me to her agent Katherine at Curtis Brown. Katherine “got it” right away. I signed on the dotted line and she started shopping the proposal around (after she had me re-write it a few times).
Of course publisher after publisher rejected the book. Until finally, the folks at Quirk Books “got it.” I turned in my first draft last August and we’ve been editing it for the past few months. Finally, the end is in sight. There will be two more sets of layouts to review. Sometime this spring we’ll wrap things up and the book will be published in September.
At this particular moment, I have one thought…it’s a good thing the gestation period for human babies is shorter. If it was as long as that of this book, we may well be extinct.

Breast Feeding Twins and Triplets

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If the thought of breastfeeding one baby has ever seemed overwhelming to you, imagine what it’s like to breastfeed twins or triplets. Believe it or not, it can be done.
Today’s New York Times has a beautiful essay written by a mom who delivered her triplets prematurely at 26 weeks.
At the incubator, I stared through the plastic cover, unsure if I was allowed to put my hand through the side window. A nurse appeared, urging me on: “It’s O.K., you can touch them. Just be gentle and don’t rub. And talk to them — they definitely recognize your voice.”
I opened the window and placed my finger on Baby A’s leg. His knee was the size of an acorn.
The nurse also told me the boys needed my highly nutritious colostrum and pending breast milk and that she would return with bottles and suction cups.

The story is more focused, however, on the mom’s decision not to “reduce” the fetuses from three to two, as her doctor counseled her to consider.
“You need to consider reducing to one or two fetuses. In triplet pregnancies the babies often are born very premature with a lot of complications. You may be saving the lives of the other two by eliminating one.”
While I am a feminist who believes in abortion rights, this was not the choice I had in mind. To spend years and tens of thousands of dollars trying to conceive a baby only to end with discussions of an abortion seemed to me an especially cruel twist of fate. But what would we do if the triplets were born with serious handicaps? It seemed an impossible choice.

What hasn’t weighed on me, as our boys have grown healthier and bigger (they’re now 4 and thriving in preschool) is our decision not to reduce. I often look at them and ask myself that impossible question: Which one wouldn’t be here?
But I feel no righteousness about our choice, only luck. Time and again I run into mothers at the playground with twins who notice my triplets (it’s hard not to) and gently ask whether I faced that decision, only to then confess their deep guilt at having reduced from triplets themselves.

On a totally different note, at the Oscars last week, Melissa Etheridge’s wife, Tammy Etheridge talked about breastfeeding her twins. The Celebrity Baby Blog had this story:
Joan Rivers asked Tammy if she had exercised to get back into shape after giving birth to the twins. Tammy said, “No, I’m breastfeeding, I don’t have to do anything else.” Joan said, “Your breasts look great, so keep nursing!”
If you want to learn just how to feed triplets or twins, here are some good links from Kellymom, Mothering magazine and La Leche League.
To the moms out there who do breastfeed multiples…I’m in awe.