Mama Knows Breast




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Answering Your Breastfeeding Questions

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I’ve been doing some guest writing on The Nest Baby, a cool site for new moms. Readers have been submitting questions about breastfeeding and I’ve been answering them. You can check out all of the answers on this link. You can also jump right to the specific questions from these links:
Breastfeeding Positions
Breast Lumps and Nursing
Dealing with Thrush
Inverted Nippes
Milk Blisters
Newborn Eating Enough?
Getting Help At Home
Prepping to Nurse?
Prepping to Pump?
Pumping and Work
Pumping Problems
Storing Breastmilk
Travel while Nursing
Weaning and Milk Supply
Pumping Extra Milk
If you have a specific question, feel free to email me any time at mamaknowsbreast@yahoo.com.

Things That Happen After Weaning

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I’ve been visiting my brother and sister in law and their 6 day old little peanut…the G Man…and the strangest thing keeps happening. Every time I see the baby, one of my breasts starts to hurt, as if milk was coming in. It’s been nearly two weeks since I weaned The Bear, so it’s a bizarre sensation. It happens as soon as I walk in the door. And stops once I’ve left. Some milk must be still lurking around in there.
Anyone else have a similar tale? Still lactating after weaning?

Getting Rid of My Nursing Bras and Nursing Pads

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I was doing yet another load of laundry today when lo and behold, I found a rogue nursing pad! Who knows how it got in there. While I weaned The Bear a mere week and a half ago, it’s been eons since I actually leaked.
So in honor of my find, I took some drastic measures. Out with the old, and in with the new. I threw away my ragged nursing bras…and that nursing pad…and took a little trip to a store where they actually fit you for bras. If you happen to be in New York, you’ve got to check out the Town Shop. You’ll never buy a bra in a department store again.
If, however, you’re still in the market for nursing bras, you might want to check out the latest Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog post, which has a sneak peak at some new bras. You’ll find a sports bra, a bra that will adjust to your changing shape and a bra that lets you pump hands free.
As for those nursing pads, I just bought a package of Medela pads for a friend.

Weaned

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It seems that we’re done with breastfeeding. The Bear is 13+ months old, and yesterday was the first day in his life that he didn’t have “bubbies.” We were down to one feeding every day, usually around 5 a.m. He would wake up, eat for about 15 minutes, and then go right back to sleep for another hour or so.
But it had reached the point where I felt like a big pacifier. I wasn’t sure he was actually getting anything to eat. It seemed he was just sucking to soothe himself back to sleep. Besides that, his teeth were hurting me a bit, even if I re-did his latch. And so, I think this is it.
I’m happy that we made it to the one year mark that is recommended, at a minimum, by the American Academy of Pediatrics. I know the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for two years, and that many people breastfeed their toddlers. But I’ve decided that I’m comfortable stopping now. It just feels right.
I’d like to sear in my memory the last time I breastfed The Bear. I have a bunch of impressions, but I’m not quite sure if they are specifically from the last time, or simply an amalgamation of the past few weeks. Of course it doesn’t really matter. To me, this will always be what I remember.
It was around 4:30 in the morning. He started to whimper from his bedroom, so I walked down the hallway, making sure to avoid the stroller parking lot, and got him out of the room before he woke up his brother. I climbed back into bed and propped a pillow under my arm that held his head. I know he found my breast in the dark and I barely had to look to see that he latched on well. After a year of practice, we knew our routine by heart. I know he fussed a bit when I switched him from one side to the next, and that I winced when he bit me by accident. I know it was still dark and that I could hear the rain and thunder. Flashes of lightening lit the room periodically. I think I also heard some birds chirping outside our window, but I don’t know if that makes sense. Would the birds have been out if it was raining? And besides, I’ve never noticed a ledge outside our 20th floor window where they could perch.
I know that once his sucking and breathing slowed, and he became heavier in my arms, I stuck my finger into the corner of his mouth and he popped off. He started to cry again, annoyed at the disturbance, and arched his back as I carried him to the Pak n Play in our room. I put him down on his back and he promptly flipped onto his stomach. I stroked the back of his head for a few seconds, whispered sh sh sh, and then slipped back into bed.
Will he remember any of this? No. His older brother, The Bortsky, certainly doesn’t believe me when I tell him that he used to “have bubbies” once too. As far as he’s concerned, “bubbies” are for babies, and he’s been drinking from a Dora cup since the beginning of time.
But isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be? As moms, we remember almost everything. The smell of pajamas just washed in Dreft. Rubbing lotion on pudgy thighs. The wailing that kept us up at nights. And certainly, the bliss of a baby that has breastfed and fallen asleep.
Even though The Bear will never recall these 4 a.m. feedings, I imagine, on a certain level he’ll remember that sense of contentment. Those were our moments together. Our moments alone, in the middle of the night. And our moments alone, even when we were surrounded by the outside world on a park bench.
Bye, “bubbies.” The Bear may not miss you, but I think I will. Now I just have to figure out how to wean myself.

Weaning Parties for Toddlers and Some Weaning Problems of My Own

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I’m back home in Boston for the weekend, and lo and behold The Boston Globe had a story on the growing trend to breastfeed toddlers and young children.
At the start of the story we meet a little girl who is having a weaning party, complete with cake and friends.
On a recent Saturday evening, Ruth Tincoff and Bruce Inglehart of Wellesley had a party for Gwen, their not-quite-5-year-old daughter. They served six squealing girls squiggly pasta with red sauce and Gwen’s favorite dessert — vanilla cake with raspberry – and – lemon frosting. While the adults munched on veggies and dip, the girls played dress-up.
According to the piece, more and more moms are breastfeeding longer.
Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from Abbott Labs’ Ross Mothers Survey show a steady increase in the number of women who initiate breast-feeding, from 57 percent in 1994 to 72 percent in 2005. Less well-known is the gradual increase in the age at which breast-feeding stops. In 1997, 26 percent of mothers were still nursing their babies at six months; in 2005, 39 percent were. In 1997, 14.5 percent of mothers were still breast-feeding at 12 months; by 2005, the number had climbed to 20 percent.
No one keeps count beyond 18 months, not even La Leche League International, a lactation support system. Katherine Dettwyler , the nation’s leading breast-feeding researcher, says women who continue to nurse typically keep quiet about it, sometimes even to family members, because the culture is so biased against it.
So why the new trend? Here’s what the article says:
Public health campaigns account for the increase in women who breast-feed, says Lawrence. Those who stay with it, particularly beyond 18 months, tend to be highly educated. “This is not a cult,” she says. “It’s about education and learning that the benefits persist.” Research shows that breast-feeding provides continued protection against infection and allergies.
There is also the matter of the mother-child relationship. For a working mother who is separated from her child all day, nursing in the morning and at night is a loving way to reconnect, says Naomi Bar-Yam of the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition.

As for me, here’s the latest on the breastfeeding front with The Bear (12 months). We’re down to just one feeding per day…unfortunately at 5 a.m. But we’ve had a few set backs lately. When I tried to transition him from formula to whole milk at 12 months, he rejected the milk. I tried mixing the formula with milk, and then tapering the formula until we were left with milk. That didn’t work. Eventually, I just fed him when I was certain he was hungry and had no choice but to drink the milk.
Eventually I broke the formula addiction. But now that seems to be replaced by a general rejection of the sippy cup. Every day I find myself struggling to make sure he drinks enough, and thus monitoring the number of ounces he’s getting. The pediatrician told me to aim for a cup and a half to two cups each day. (Our cups hold about 8 ounces). On days that I’m really concerned, I’ve fed him milk with a spoon, and even held the cup up to his lips for him to drink like a grown-up. He’s thus earned a new nickname here, The Guzzler. This weekend we’re trying some different style sippy cups.
I’ll let you know how things are going in a week or so. I’m aiming to be done with breastfeeding by May. What then? I think we’ll have a little family party. Vanilla cake, chocolate frosting.

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.

Weaning

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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?