This is not anti formula, it is not anti mothers who choose to formula feed, it is against formula companies increasing their profits by undermining the confidence of mothers that chose to breastfeed.
I encourage you to participate by taking a picture of you and your baby (or baby bump) with a sign a long the lines of “No formula ads in hospitals” and post it on the Facebook wall for Enfamil and Nestle and Tweet your picture and share it on other social media.
I frequently hear from mothers complaining that they don’t get very much milk when they pump. A breastpump is nowhere near as efficient as a baby at emptying a breast but it’s better than nothing when baby isn’t able to nurse for whatever reason or you need to save milk for future use. The amount you can pump will vary greatly depending on several factors including the type of pump, time of day, last time the breast was emptied, length of session and even level of distraction. I have been known to pump 7 ounces from one side in one session and only drops in another and every amount in between.
I wrote these tips in a document for the La Leche League Facebook group and I frequently copy and paste it to e-mail replies when asked for pumping help so I figured that it would be a good idea to share this on my blog for quick and easy reference.
Below is a list of things that worked for me when I used to pump and that have helped many of my clients. I hope that you find at least some of them useful.
The type of pump, the frequency and length of the sessions all play a role in how much you’ll get. There are different tricks, many minor tweaks that have helped me and many of my clients such as:
If pumping at work try to time your breaks at baby’s usual mealtimes
Be hydrated, drink water right before and during pumping (for myself cold water worked better than room temperature water)
Being relaxed when pumping is important, muscular tension can also occur in the breasts which inhibits letdown. If your neck and shoulders are tense, chances are that you will have a hard time getting much milk out. Deep breaths, relaxing music, brief meditation, whatever works for you as a quick relaxant will help. A lot of moms find that using a hands free pumping bra allows them to have a more relaxed posture than holding the flanges against your chest (you can easily make your own pumping bra out of an old sports bra).
Avoid multi tasking while pumping- it’s harder for your brain to have a good letdown with a machine so focusing on baby helps. Some moms use a piece of clothing that baby wore, a picture of baby, a video. Iin my case a recording of baby crying gave me more milk than a picture of him smiling and double the amount of milk than if I was just sitting there eating, watching tv, Facebooking or texting while pumping.
I know it’s hard to do but avoid staring at the bottles while pumping as stressing over ounces will reduce output.
Dry pumping for several minutes after the last drop sends the signal to your body that it needs to make more milk. For me I found that drinking a tall glass of water while still dry pumping would give me a second letdown after about a minutewith an average of an extra ounce per side.
I hope that at least some of these tips are useful.
In over 2.5 years I have counseled over 3,000 breastfeeding mothers as part of my paid work as a WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor and as a volunteer La Leche League Leader. As a supporter and volunteer for Best for Babes Foundation, I am very aware of the many “Booby Traps” to breastfeeding because sadly, I have encountered many of them myself.
While I don’t get tired of talking about breastfeeding, it can be very hard to not take things personally and feel defeated when a mom doesn’t reach her breastfeeding goal. It saddens me to see so much unnecessary supplementation and premature weaning that could have been easily avoided if mom had more confidence in herself and learned to listen to her gut. Oftentimes I can’t blame the mom as the bad advice comes from a health authority figure that they mistakenly assume to be an expert even if their lactation knowledge is minimal at best.
I hear it all of the time, a nurse says “your baby lost weight, you are not making enough so you have to supplement” or “your baby has jaundice so you will have to stop breastfeeding for 24/48 hours and give formula”. That could have been me…
When Shammy was 2 days old a nurse woke me up at 2am to say that he had lost weight and had to be given formula right now, I must have been the first mother in her career to question that order. In my groggy state I had to attempt to engage my brain because the nurse was pushing all of my emotional buttons to get me to agree. To her it was just standard protocol of infant weight loss= give formula. She didn’t know about breastfeeding and adamant that I couldn’t wait until I asked the doctor in the morning about the formula, she insisted that my sleeping newborn had to have formula RIGHT NOW.
So I told her that if it’s truly such an emergency that he needs to supplemented that she will then wake up the doctor and have me tell him himself. Obviously that wasn’t an option so I insisted that if he had to be supplemented he would be supplemented with my breastmilk so please get my a breast pump.
After almost 15 minutes of arguing she finally gave up and came back with a breastpump. My milk wasn’t in so I pump some colostrum and she complained about how that wasn’t enough but put it in the fridge anyway. Shammy never got that milk. The next morning I asked the doctor and he agreed that while supplementing with formula would help, it wasn’t necessary and I did NOT have to do it.
The next day my milk came in and Shammy gained all of the weight loss plus some. But how many new mothers know to question a nurse? They think the nurse knows it all, oftentimes they mistakenly assume that the nurse is acting on doctor’s orders. How much supplementation could be avoided? Also a lot of mothers think that supplementation = formula. It doesn’t occur to them that their baby can be supplemented with their own breastmilk.
A lot of people say “it’s just one bottle, what harm can it do?”. If you spend 1 day with me at the WIC office and you’ll be surprised at how much damage just one bottle can do to breastfeeding. Not counting the fact that a lot of nurses and doctors tell a mother to supplement but don’t tell her for how long so mom thinks she will always have to supplement when in reality they could have stopped days ago and by the time they get to me we are faced with the problem of dropping milk supply, lazy latch, nipple confusion, etc.
Jaundice does not equal formula supplementation. Zen was born Coombs +, what this means is that his blood type is different from mine so he gets jaundice while his blood clears out the leftovers from mine so he had to be under bili lights as a preventative and still got mild jaundice. On top of that he had (at the moment undiagnosed) posterior tongue tie and upper lip tie so his latch was not good and he was losing weight due to improper milk transfer. The first nurse said that I could only nurse for 20 mins every 3 hours due to the lights. The second nurse said that I had to supplement because he was losing weight and his bili levels were rising.
I saw another argument like the one with Shammy’s nurse brewing but thankfully this time it was daytime and my demand for a doctors order wasn’t so unreasonable. I knew that limiting nursing would only make his jaundice and weight loss worse but the nurse was set in her ways. The doctor agreed with me and I got permission to nurse on demand by getting under the lights with baby as long as I wore sunglasses. The doctor had no trouble discharging us from the hospital despite still rising bilirubin levels and weight loss because she knew that I would “nurse him a million times a day”.
As soon as we were discharged I made an appointment with Dr. Punger to get Zen’s tongue tie and upper lip tie diagnosed and fixed and while his jaundice took a while to fully clear, we never had to supplement, we never had to go back to the hospital and he gained all of the weight loss plus some.
The moral of the story is:
Always ask questions if you are told that your baby has to be supplemented. If a nurse tells you to supplement, demand to hear it straight from the doctor.
Know that you can supplement with your own breastmilk.
Pediatricians can still be quick to recommend supplementation when it’s not truly needed so it’s ok to get a second opinion and talk to an IBCLC
If you are told to pump and dump or stop breastfeeding due to medication, contact an IBCLC or LLL that can look up the drug on Hale’s Medication’s and Mother’s Milk. Doctors and pharmacists play it safe and tell you not to breastfeed because they don’t know better when in reality it’s perfectly safe. Most drugs are compatible with breastfeeding. Lactmed and the Infant Risk Centers are also good resources for this. (You can use the Lactnet search widget on the right column of this page to research a medication).
If you are told to supplement “until your milk supply increases” know that your milk supply will go further down because production is supply and demand and every ounce of formula that baby drinks is one less ounce that baby will drain from the breast sending a signal to your body that it’s not needed. While pumping can help, a breastpump is not as efficient as baby to increase milk supply.
If you must supplement it doesn’t have to be with a bottle (anything but a bottle is preferred; SNS, syringe, cup, spoon or finger feeding are options) and get clear instructions on exactly how long that is necessary while getting counseling on how to protect your milk supply and baby’s latch.
I believe that breastfeeding support is important for pediatric practice and which that all pediatrician offices either have a CLC/IBCLC on site or were quick to refer a mother to one as needed.
It looks like Shammy has weaned. He had been working towards it for a while. For months he would just nurse for a few seconds every other day. During the count at the Big Latch On he had his longest nursing session in months but after that he didn’t ask to nurse again. I thought he was done until exactly a week later he asked again, and then again about 4-5 days after that. By then he seemed to have forgotten how to latch on properly and he hasn’t asked since. That was over 2 weeks ago. I am grateful that we were able to share this journey for just over 3 years despite our rocky start.
I would have gone into a full fledged weaning depression if it wasn’t for the fact that Zen is still breastfeeding. Until recently Zen was a lot less interested in nursing than Shammy was at his age but lately he seems to have picked up his brother’s slack. Shammy will regularly encourage me to nurse his brother by saying “please please give Zen milkie” while not interested in having any for himself. I don’t know when Zen will wean but at least I know that it is many months away and it will be just as gradual and gentle as Shammy’s process.
As the breastfeeding journey with Shammy ends I have started a new “formal” learning journey with him. I have finally gotten off my ass and started homeschooling him, I must admit that I am intimidated by the process and just playing it by ear right now taking it a day at a time. He has a very good foundation of preschool knowledge already so I am starting easy by just reviewing things that he already knows. Right now he is enjoying a trial to ABCMouse.com and he likes it although I wish there weren’t so many art activities as he gets sick of those very quickly. He loves the puzzles, books and songs. I will probably buy him the annual subscription as soon as I can raise the money.
I have converted my old laptop as his homeschool laptop and we also do some hands on work with worksheets and activities. So far we are taking it easy doing about 20-30 minutes of computer curriculum and another 20-30 minutes of hands on lessons/worksheets/activities. The rest of the day I just try to reinforced what we covered through daily life activities. Today we are reviewing the number Zero and the circle shape and he is having fun identifying all of the circles throughout the house while I write this.
I still need to figure out how a lefty will teach a righty how to write without confusing him but I just need to research it since I know that I am not the first one with this problem. Zen is very interested in what we do and even though I am not homeschooling him yet he will probably end up ahead of the game by picking up what he hears/sees during his brother’s lessons.
A common concern when people think about homeschooling is socialization and I admit to have shared that concern. While the socialization myth has been debunked I was still concerned about the boys not having much interaction with other kids. I am blessed with knowing lots of local homeschoolers to network with in the addition to local groups that organize field trips, playdates and sports so the opportunities for socialization are very diverse. Sadly I am unable to participate in those activities because we only have 1 car and the extra expense from driving hubby to work and back to keep the car to attend activities is cost prohibitive.
Thankfully they get to play with other kids 1 day a week when they go to daycare while I work. I don’t think that they are learning anything from daycare, if anything they are losing their good manners by going but at least they get to play with other kids their age for a day. A local friend and fellow homeschooler shared her thoughts on the socialization subject and I no longer feel so bad for being stuck at home with them.
“What is socialization? a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.
Do I really want them learning that from other misbehaved, ugly mannered, mean spirited kids that I don’t know anything about? Do I want MY kids mimicking some of those terrible behaviors I see from other kids at times? No. I want them to learn their behaviors from a set of people I know what to expect from behaviorally, morally, and their language (cuss-wise and grammar). Mainly meaning other adults that I hang out with. If they have kids then my kids can play with them!
I try hard NOT to go to the park when there are a ton of kids there. It scares me sometimes! I don’t want my kids doing the things I see some of those kids doing. I don’t want them hurt by other kids that I have no control over. I want them to learn to play nicely and be fair, careful and considerate of others. They don’t learn that from other kids that are needing to learn the same thing but don’t get it yet! (**disclaimer here…I don’t think ALL kids at the park are little monsters. But quite a few ARE. I have seen it enough to be wary**)
My kids do play with other kids at church or with their cousins occasionally but for the most part they play with each other! And me! They learn from what they see so I am careful to try and let them see how I want them to act more than they see how I DON’T want them to act.
It is pretty hard sometimes because you can only control so much BUT I see the results all the time!! I get so many compliments on how well behaved my children are. THEY get so many people tell them how well behaved they are. And I can see the effect in them when they hear others talk about that! My kids feel so good when they are complimented about it. They glow from the praise! And they take care of each other! They worry over each other! They love each other! Yes! There are days when they are mean and self-centered and hurt the other one but these days really are like speed bumps.
So I don’t worry about socializing them with other kids too much! They know how to play with others BUT they also know how to interact properly with adults (and AS decent adults when the time comes)!”
Last month we celebrated Zen’s 1st birthday and Shammy’s 3rd birthday. This also marks 3 years of breastfeeding and 1 year of tandem nursing.
My boys are growing up fast and the older they get the more they look alike.
This week I celebrated World Breastfeeding Week by organizing our local Big Latch On event. This is my 3rd and final time organizing, it’s been a fun ride but I am burnt out and it’s time to step back and allow a fresh face to take over the wheel. I still look forward to attending next year and actually enjoy the event instead of running around coordinating everything.
I wish I had good news to report on my quest for closure after the incident where I was harassed by nursing in a restaurant. The restaurant’s lawyers are taking the “ignore the problem and it will go away” approach and have not responded to any of my lawyer’s letters. The only option left is to file a lawsuit. Sadly due to my very part time work hours (thank you Congress) I don’t have the money for court filing fees. I am very blessed to be a part of an online group of breastfeeding mothers that despite never meeting me in person are trying to help but I know that times are tough and they may not be able to raise the $400 and change needed. I still feel very humbled and grateful for their efforts.