Thursday, March 26, 2009

When Breastfeeding is Tough

When is it not? Okay, that's not true. Sometimes it does, as it did with my firstborn, who latched on right after birth and never stopped for two years. (Yup, woke up every two hours at night for the first year -- that was not fun!)

But I saw a question on Mamasource that I answered the other day, and thought I would share it, and my answer, with you. The biggest takeaway for anyone pregnant right now should be how important it is to (a) educate yourself on how breastfeeding works, both mechanically and intellectually, and (b) to line up a supportive team before delivering your baby. If you don't have a doula for your birth, visit a few lactation consultants or attend your local La Leche League meeting around the 7th month so you'll be calling a familiar face if you need help.

So here's the all-too common dilemma -- I really wish that all doctors had the time (or a person in their office with the time) to help mamas with nursing. Those early days are the hardest, but once they pass, life is good.

Q: My daughter is 10 days old and I have been wanting to bf soo bad. (I tried with my son 5 years ago and I was never able to provide enough milk) I had a c/s and it took 6 days for any trace of any milk to come in. She wasnt gaining weight so we were told to supp formula until my milk came in. She seems hungry ALL the time. I will nurse on each side ( i hear some swallowing) and then she is still hungry and will suck down 3 oz of formula. We ran out and bought the Medela PSI pump as advised by our LC (who really hasnt been much help), I tried it today after lunch and literally got less than a tablespoon out of BOTH sides combined!!! No wonder she is loosing weight, poor thing is starving! I have been taking Fenugreek, 4/3x a day, but obviously that isnt helping either. I am soo frustrated and now depressed that I can't feed my baby. Please help!!!

A: Ohh, Cathy, I totally understand your frustration. But that tension is not doing you any favors. So, although the worst thing to hear right now is the word relax, that's step one. (Unless you had breast reduction surgery that cut or removed your milk ducts in the past; in that case, you have an actual physical impediment to breastfeeding.) That done, back to "relaxing" -- I have four kids, all of whom I breastfed, including twins. Breastmilk is totally a supply-and-demand operation, so the more you put your baby to the breast, the more milk your body will make. But the supply lags slightly behind the demand, just fyi. My second baby was not latching correctly, and apparently was just chewing on my nipples for the better part of her first ten days of life -- I had no idea, even as a veteran nurser, that what looked like efficient nursing was not getting any milk to her.

So, if that awful LC checked your baby's latch and said it was good, let's move on. If not, or if it hurts your breast when you nurse, fix that first. (I'll tell you how to contact me, or call your La Leche League warmline).

Get into bed and stay there with your baby on your Boppy or other nursing pillow in front of you or next to you if you are lying on your side. Whenever she makes a noise or appears to root or purses her lips, put her to your breast. And keep her on that one breast. Why? Because the first part of nursing action from her produces foremilk, which is like skim, and after letdown, the good high fat stuff arrives. Pretty cool.

Also, please don't be freaked out by what you get from breast pump. Your baby is less than 2 weeks old, for goodness sakes!! :) The pump is for priming your production -- the more your breasts are stimulated, the more milk your baby will get. Remember, nothing is as efficient at getting milk than your baby. The fact that you got something out of your first session is awesome! That stuff is liquid gold. The next step is to not supplement, it starts a vicious cycle where she suckles less, so your body makes less, so she gets more formula, and voila, your milk has "dried up".

Now, how do you tell that your baby is getting enough milk and you're not starving her? Good question -- you count her wet diapers. If you're using disposables, put a square of toilet tissue in at each diaper change so you can notice if it's wet.

And Cathy, stop pressuring yourself. It's like trying to yell at yourself to produce an orgasm. Not effective at all. The active relaxation you CAN do is to say to yourself, "my body is perfect and knows how to feed my baby. I see milk flowing from my body to hers. I see her pink and fat and healthy" -- sounds goofy but it's a big help.

My last suggestion is to give me a call if you need to hear a friendly voice. I have a store, One Hot Mama, in Studio City and I'll be there today from noon to whenever my husband can't deal with the kids any more. When that happens, my mom covers the store, and you can give her your number and I'll call you right back. You're the best mother for your child -- remember that, and know that how you feed her is no reflection of your love. I admire that you're trying to give her the healthiest food you can -- just be easy on yourself.

Friday, March 20, 2009

We Work Hard So You Don't Have To

I'm off to the Fall Markets (but it's not even really Spring, yet!) AND the Mom2B tradeshow right now to scour the trends for hot stuff for all you hot nursing and pregnant (and about-to-be-pregnant) mamas.

This is the best, and the most dangerous, part of my job. Best because technology and design and creativity are in full bloom in the world of mama fashion, and it's always like Christmas shopping to choose what will make you look and feel your best. Why dangerous? Because it makes pregnancy look SO GOOD!

Now, having given birth to four children in the past ten years, and having nursed them for what seemed like that entire decade, you'd think that having a big belly and a new baby (not necessarily in that order) would be the last thing I'd find attractive. Nope. Toddlers scare me (and, because God wants you to face your fears, that's apparently why I have two of them at this very moment.) But the full bloom of pregnancy in a fab maternity wardrobe does have its appeal.

The fall tradeshow was where I met the fabulous Caden sisters, inventors of The Belly Bandit, and got to visit with the girls from Ingrid & Isabel, and reunite with the maker of Hotslings, who was partly inspired to start her business by little 'ol me. Pretty cool stuff. Because a lot of the companies are mama-and-papa driven. I couldn't do this without Bob, and it's great that there are lots of other cool papas out there doing the same thing.

I'll report back next week with news of clothes I hopefully won't need! :)

Have a great weekend!

(PS -- If you're a new mom reading this and berating yourself for not having invented something or started a company between nursing sessions -- stop. Back away from the self-flaggelation. You can't do everything all at once.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Breastfeeding, Your Mummy Tummy & The Belly Bandit

So I had a very nice conversation the other day with a new mom of twins, who wanted to know why her belly was still -- well -- ample, five months after birth. She was looking into buying the Belly Bandit, which is marketed as a postpartum support and tummy cincher, but they don't claim you have to use it the very day you give birth (hey, I give it a whirl occasionally and my youngest girls will be four in less than a month -- oops, better plan a party!).

Where was I? This momnesia can be a bear ... oh, yeah. I told the very sweet caller to be gentle on herself, and that she should remember it's 9 months up and 9 months down, and that she had given her twins the gift of a long gestation and high birthweight, which takes a bit of poundage on mom's part (boy, do I remember that!). Then I had a thought, and asked if she had nursed her babies.

She hadn't. Which, of course, is every mother's choice. But in all the yada yada yada about how great it is for the baby (which it is) and how many IQ points it gives them (it does) and how it's a real money saver (oh, boy, is it ever!), it's easy to miss what I like to call:

Breastfeeding Benefits for Selfish Chicks:

Right away, as in, the first time you nurse after birth, before you're even in your over-priced "good room," breastfeeding makes your uterus shrink! Seriously -- you can actually feel it contract, and it's not comfy. But getting that duffle-bag sized womb back into its travel case (that's how I picture it -- like a raincoat that folds into its own pocket) is the first step toward Getting Your Body Back.

Did I mention it's free? So you can take all the money you would have spent on bottles and sterilizers on some cool duds for yourself, maybe even on a pair of wicked cute and comfy shoes.

Your breasts will look fabulous. You might not want anyone to touch 'em, but they'll be full. That's a good thing.

I could go on, but bedtime for my four has come and gone and two of them are still wondering the halls. That's the benefit I still miss -- I was able to be my lazy self and get them to sleep with nary a second thought. Now, parenting takes actual thought. :)

I'll leave you with my favourite, easiest trick for hiding a mummy tummy after having a baby -- wear your baby! Slings make nursing easier, and camouflage that extra skin!

Check out the Belly Bandit on Good Day LA in the am, and as always, tell me what you think!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

How Cute is This?

The Peek A Boo Tunic

I am sorely tempted to add this to my closet, though my poor hubby is already wary of my need to have clothes that are made for carrying and nursing babies, since we're all full up with the four.
Seriously, if I win the HGTV Dream Home on Sunday, I'll have another baby AND get this great tunic. A win-win, as they say. :)
You who are already preggers or nursing, however, need no such prodding. $78. Two colour combos. Check it out!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

You Never Know When It's Going to End ...

I'm a little sensitive today (still getting used to having my period after a decade -- ! -- ) of no menstrual ups and downs thanks to pregnancy and nursing. But I burst into tears reading a journal entry from a mom of five. Don't think I could find the link again -- I was chasing information about colonial costumes down the various rabbit holes of the web, and ended up at this sweet family site by a homeschooling, religious farm woman. One might think we wouldn't have a lot in common, so wittily urbane am I. :)

Her children are pretty spread out (unlike me, she didn't wait until her thirties to start) so she has a couple teenagers. And what she said that had me sniveling like a baby was, "I wish they would tell you when something is happening for the last time."

She was reminiscing about her now-twelve-year-old boy, and realizing that at some point last summer, he had been draped over her lap reading a story, and hadn't been in her lap since. If she had only known, she would have hugged him a little tighter back then. And that made me think of all the people I've seen lately wanting their kids into their cribs at two months or four months and how they were adamantly not going to ever let them into their beds. And that made me remember hearing a radio host, Dennis Prager, once proclaim what a gift it was to share sleep with your child.

Granted, some of us have to contend with pretty annoying side effects, like an elbow to the nose or a kick to the groin while you're in REM sleep, but I can tell, like all things, that this too will pass. The majority of American parents actually have their kids get into their beds at some point during the night -- with my babies, they just started out there. Would I do anything differently? Sure -- I would have had an Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper with our first child -- a great in-between compromise, and well worth the money.

But would I give away a single night of snuggling with our precious kids (who look and seem more precious when they are, in fact, asleep)? No. Will I be wistful when I look back and realize that they'll never make me sleep like a pretzel again? Yeah, a little bit.

But that's what worked for our family. You have to do what's best for yours. And because God has a sense of humour, each child will be different!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Rachel Ray -- The Belly Bandit Works!!


Here's the link to the video clip from Rachel Ray's show where a mom tests the Belly Bandit and comes back with good news!

See earlier posts in this very blog about getting your body back and more, and when you want to know where to buy your Belly Bandit, come to One Hot Mama online or visit our store in the Los Angeles area. (Okay, it's Studio City, California, but we have a name-recognition problem!).

Hope you're having a great day.

Remember, your body carried a baby, birthed a baby, and fed a baby. That's one hot body!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

One Hot Mama is on Hannah Montana tonight!

So we have much more news next week about media appearances, but in the meantime, your tween might be thrilled to find that you "know" the mom on the Welcome to the Bungle episode that airs tonight!

Yes, in between running the site and driving four kiddies around, I occassionally get to work as an actress. Keeps our family in health insurance, AND I couldn't do it without dh, Bob the Amazing Webmaster and World's Best Daddy!