Say ‘boom’!

November 10, 2007

Since I’m commenting more on other people’s blogs these days, using this blog to do so anonymously, it’s only fair that I update here a bit. I have several posts in mind that are waiting to be written (or, you know, not), but I’ll start of with a cute little story.

When Mio was three months old, he started to laugh at the word ‘boom!’, especially when it was accompanied by some sudden movement. We did that a lot, and joked that his first word would probably be ‘boom!’.

More than a year went by, and apart from ‘mama’, ‘dada’ and lots of excitedly uttered syllables,  no real words yet. But yesterday I was playing and laughing with him while I  carried him on my arm. “Can you say ‘boom’?”, I asked him, out of the blue.

‘Boom!’

I’m so proud of him.

Out, damned plug! Out, I say!

February 15, 2007

In dealing with my recurrent plugged ducts, I came across a wealth of tips and information. Some of it, especially coming from my doctors, has been contradicting: cool! stop the cooling already! Some has been confusing: massage the hard spot while showering. This never did anything for me. Some has been a lifesaver: sterilize needle. poke. Since I’ve gained most of my knowledge while surfing the Internet, I thought I’d compile a list of my favorite tips here, in case it might help someone. Some sources: of course there’s kellymom and Dr. Jack Newman, but for all the inside info, the blogosphere can’t be beat. An excellent discussion was had at Jo’s. Also check out Moxie and Galloping Cats.

Here a my tips. Your mileage may vary.

    Pain management

  1. Apply heat not to the lump in your breast, but just below it, right where the blockage is. Applying heat to the lump will increase milk supply, making the lump even harder and more painful. Heat where the plug is might widen things a bit, making unplugging easier.
  2. Cabbage leaves also help with painful engorgement above the blockage.
  3. Take a painkiller, if you’re comfortable with that. An anti-inflammatory (like ibuprofen) might also slow down a threatening infection. At least that’s what I liked to think.
  4. Unplugging

  5. Nursing upside down (with your baby lying on his back on the bed and you hoovering over him on all fours) feels ridiculous, but can be very effective in loosening plugs. You have gravity working for you here.
  6. In the shower, hand-express as fast as you can. Someone called this ‘the milkmaid routine’. The combination of heat and pumping will often loosen plugs. As an added bonus, cleaning up all that spilled milk is easy. (Note that I finally figured out how ‘massaging in the shower’ can work!)
  7. This one is not for the squeamish, but it saved me dozens of times. If you can see the plug appearing as a white spot in the nipple but it won’t come out, take a very clean, thoroughly sterilized needle and poke around a bit. Combine with hand-expressing for optimal results. Just don’t tell your mom.
  8. Prevention

  9. Remove anything that puts pressure on your breasts. For me that meant no bras, no slings, no sidesleeping, not carrying Mio on my chest.
  10. Besides drinking enough fluids and taking those prenatal vitamins, I took lecithin (flax oil seems to work too) to help prevent the clogging, and echinacea to help boost my immune system.
  11. This was the big eye-opener for me: cutting down on saturated fats dramatically reduced the number of plugged ducts I had. It was hard to give up cookies, but so worth it!

To feed a baby…

February 7, 2007

… it takes a bottle or one breast
one bottle or a breast

When I was pregnant with Mio my approach to the bottle-or-breast question was very pragmatic: I thought I’d give nursing a try; if it worked, perfect, if not, I was fine with bottles. I have little patience with the “breastfeeding mafia”. Although I am grateful for all the info and support on breastfeeding that’s out there, I’m also grateful for the existence of formula. In the end, a mom’s decision to breast- or bottlefeed is her very own, and she should not have to defend herself either way.

/ manifesto mode off /

So…. when Mio was born, I started nursing. Since he was so small, we supplemented for the first week or so – mostly for my peace of mind. After that, it was my milk only. He grew well, I was happy, all peaches and cream. There was that one day when I had a sore breast and a slight fever, but it resolved itself quickly and I thought little of it. Until that night when Mio was six weeks old and I got run over by a truck – or so it felt. Within two hours I went from noticing a painful spot in my breast to lying in bed, shivering with cold. Yep, mastitis.The doctor-on-call told me to cool my breast and go to my regular doctor in the morning to get antibiotics. My regular doctor told me to stop the cooling already and apply hot compresses instead (and gave me the antibiotics, thankfully). It took two days for the pain to subside, a week for the plugged duct to resolve. After that, I had a plugged duct about once or twice a week. Twice more I got a course of antibiotics for threatening mastitis. The first one I took, the second one is still on my shelf. I tried to eliminate all sources of pressure on my breasts: no more bras, sidesleeping, carrying Mio in a sling or letting him sleep on my chest. It seemed to help a bit, but the plugged ducts kept coming back. When I needed my second course of antibiotics I was pretty desperate and ready to quit breastfeeding. My doctor was supportive but warned me that weaning too quickly often caused, you guessed it, plugged ducts. So yeah. I continued nursing because I was too afraid to stop. Not exactly what I had in mind before I had Mio.

Fast-forward to today, and we’re still at it! I still get the occasional plugged duct, but over time, I’ve become much better at dealing with them (more on that in a later post). We’re down to four feedings a day, and that reduction in feedings has been so gradual that my breasts have coped remarkably well. I can even sidesleep again. Through it all, Mio has had a bottle only two or three times (again, because I was too afraid to skip a feeding, even with pumping). Not surprisingly, he wants nothing to do with bottles now. He will take a sippy cup every now and again, though, and I’m teaching him to drink from a straw, which is fun. All in all, I’m happy we’ve come this far. But I don’t want to relive those weeks of nursing hell, ever.

Pork Bully

February 2, 2007

the other white milk

Jennifer at the Lactivist has designed some great t-shirts with pro-breastfeeding slogans. Go see, they’re really funny!

Unfortunately, big bully The National Pork Board thought the slogan “The Other White Milk” came dangerously close to their own gem “The Other White Meat”. Eager to protect their trademark, they sprung a threatening letter on Jennifer, demanding she’d pull the shirts with the slogan. But wait, it gets better:

‘”In addition, your use of this slogan also tarnishes the good reputation of the National Pork Board’s mark in light of your apparent attempt to promote the use of breastmilk beyond merely for infant consumption, such as with the following slogans on your website in close proximity to the slogan “The Other White Milk.” “Dairy Diva,” “Nursing, Nature’s Own Breast Enhancement,” “Eat at Mom’s, fast-fresh-from the breast,” and “My Milk is the Breast.”

What were they thinking? Oh, they were not.

And since it was so effective in preschool, why not try the old bullying trick:

“We trust that after you have reviewed this matter, you will conclude that the better course is to promptly comply with National Pork Board’s demands herein.”

Very impressive, guys. As Jennifer said, she doesn’t care much for the slogan (it’s been pulled by Cafepress already), but she doesn’t have a high tolerance for bullies.

Big Pork is afraid of their good reputation being tarnished? Let them have it. I hope this story gets around the Internet (and beyond) and Big Pork will get a lot of publicity out of it. The kind they don’t like too much. And if Jennifer sells some more shirts in the process, all the better.

On making a bookworm

January 25, 2007

Of course I have dreams for Mio. I know he’ll be his own person, with likes and dislikes that will probably veer off wildly from our own (but please, please, no team sports on rainy Saturday mornings!*). He won’t escape us trying to influence him, though. I started reading to him when he was only a few weeks old, mostly for my own enjoyment. However, he seems to really like it now. He gets very excited when he recognizes ‘his’ books and can pay attention to a whole story. I am so proud. Welcome to my world, boy!

His library so far includes:

miffy.jpg choochoo.jpg caterpillar.jpg

* Of course I will let him. I can be a soccer mom if I try, can’t I?

Mio goes Mexican

January 24, 2007

I’m having a lot of fun feeding Mio solids. I’m certainly not holier than thou, so I feed him from jars about half the time, if not more. But I also make fresh babyfood. Mashed pear and mango are big hits, of course. More surprisingly, so is homemade rice gloop (let rice cook for a really long time until it’s all soft and thick, than give it the once-over with the blender). But my favorite so far is baby guacamole. Mio is in the low percentiles for weight, so feeding him avocado was quite appealing to me (for those who don’t know, avocado is very rich, lots of fat). Not so appealing to him, though. Until I mixed it with some formula, thickened it with rice cereal and added a spoonful or two of apple sauce. Et voila: baby guacamole!

What I learned

January 21, 2007

Things I found out, things people told me, things I wish people had told me…

First things first:

– Ask everybody for advice, but in the end only do what YOU think is best.
(and remember: every baby is different, every mother is different)

– You don’t need to be perfect, ‘good enough’ is good enough.

Taking care of yourself:

– If you take good care of yourself, you take good care of the baby.

– You’re allowed to take Tylenol after labour, even when you’re breastfeeding. They might not tell you this until three days later, when your milk comes in. Why they don’t tell you right away, when the stitches start to hurt, is beyond me.

– Sleep when the baby sleeps… great advice, in theory. Don’t fret over it. Lying down with a book is good too.

– Make your life as easy as possible: buy precut meat and veggies, go easy on the housework and accept all help you’re offered.

– Try to go outside everyday, preferably with a goal (like grocery shopping), preferably to speak to another adult (like the girl at checkout).

– To let cry or not to let cry: don’t just go by what you think is best for the baby. Take yourself into account too. Need a break? Good reason. Crying breaks your heart? Good reason too.

– If you feel like leaving the baby with someone else for a while: do it. If the mere thought of being without the baby stresses you out: don’t do it. Don’t force yourself into something that doesn’t feel right.

– If you have a partner: you’re both having a hard time. Recognize this, and keep talking.

It’s normal!

– There will be times you will NOT like the baby.

– In the early days, you might wake up not knowing where the baby is (under the blankets???), when you fed him/her and whether you put him/her back in his crib/cosleeper/whatever sleeping arrangement you worked out. Apparently, this happens to a lot of new parents.

– After a couple of months, your hair will start to fall out. Lots of it. Again, this is apparently normal and should stop at some point (still waiting…)

Oh, and:

– Baby sleeps through the night at six weeks? Great! Not there by far at six months?Join the club. If you don’t feel like discussing sleep with someone for the gazillionth time, just lie. ‘Oh, he sleeps like a baby, thanks for asking! Technically, that’s not even a lie.