Monday, September 5, 2011

Back To Work

Back to Work

The summer has come to a close. School is back in session and lots of moms are back to work. This blog is intended to support those of you hard working individuals who have two jobs. Working and breastfeeding is not easy, yet it can be done with a positive attitude and a few tips and tricks. Juggling breastfeeding and work can appear to be an impossible task, especially for first time moms. The change in your life is beyond fathom with the birth of your first child, then you throw working into the mix and you are bound for some teary eyed moments. It's normal to feel overwhelmed. Don't let that deter you. You can do it with the right advice and knowing and using your support system. There are several breastfeeding support systems set up in this town (see previous blog). It is crucial for most moms to use these resources. Continuing to protect and nourish your baby through breast milk after you return to work is a gift that will last a lifetime.

Milk Mentors is here to help you. We have come up with 10 simple steps to "work hard for your money" ...."so hard for it honey"..."she works hard for the money"....

Step one: During your pregnancy discuss your plans to breastfeed and your need to express milk with your employer. This discussion would also include where you will pump and how many times you will need to pump. The bathroom is not an ideal place to pump your milk. You will need a private area, preferably with a locking door, an electrical outlet, and a sink in the room or near by. You need approximately 20 minutes to pump every three hours. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a bill that has passed both the Senate and the House and was signed into law March 23, 2010.

Here is the link: Read this bill and know your rights!

Step two: Explore the option of a gradual return to work. Begin work midweek or part-time.

Step three: Try to arrange childcare close to your work. Be sure to find a caretaker that is supportive of breastfeeding. Being close to the caretaker can perhaps minimize the amount of pumping sessions required. Maybe caretaker can bring baby to you to feed, or you can go on your breaks to feed baby. Make it very clear that you do not want caretaker feeding baby right before you come home or right before you pick baby up. This is a good time to nurse baby at the breast.

Step four: Do a trial run or two. Wake up as you would if you were going to work. Time your morning routine to determine when you will need to pump. Be sure you are properly fit to your pump. Pumping should not hurt. If it does call Milk Mentors at 904.315.5813 or another lactation professional to help you find the right fit. If at any point you feel your pump is losing suction call Milk Mentors 904.315.5813 for a free pump evaluation.

Step five: Allow yourself a minimum of two weeks to prepare for your return to work. This will give you time to generate a milk surplus and get used to pumping and storing milk. Express your milk at least one time per day. Some may need to pump more frequently if they will be away from baby for long periods. A good rule of thumb is to have at least a 3 to 5 day supply before returning to work.

Step six: Use your weekends wisely! Weekends can be used to increase your supply. Take breastfeeding vacays. Shack up with your babe and breastfeed as much as possible!

Step seven: Relax! Make yourself comfortable before pumping. Drink a glass of water. Bring pictures of your baby or one of your baby's blankets. Your let-down, or flow of milk, can be inhibited with too much stress. Relaxation techniques for stressful days are key. Breathe!

Step eight: Always wash your hands before expressing your milk. It is recommended to wash pump attachments after each use. If you store your milk in a refrigerator you can just place pump attachments into fridge without washing (minus the tubing) in a Ziploc bag. Then when it comes time to pump again you just grab them and attach them to the pump. At the end of the day take it all home and wash thoroughly.

Step nine: Store your milk in appropriate amounts to minimize waste. Your baby’s age and weight will help you determine how many ounces to store together. Always label milk with date. Use The 5-5-5 Rule: milk is good for 5 hours at room temperature, 5 days in refrigerator, and 5 months in back of freezer. Once heated it is best to use in 2 to 3 hours. It is not recommended to chill and reheat due to potential bacterial growth. Never microwave breast milk. Microwaving a bottle can create hot spots in the milk. You can heat a cup of water in the microwave, then place bottle in the water to warm. You can also run bottle under hot water.

Step ten: Rely on your support team. Be assertive and ask for help when you need it. Let house cleaning and the dishes go while you settle in to your new schedule. If dad is feeling left out in the breastfeeding process, have him do bath time or just cozy up skin-to-skin with baby on his bare chest. Skin-to-skin is a wonderful way to bond! Attend support groups, spending time chatting with moms in the same situation helps you to get through the hard times and reach your breastfeeding goals.

Moms we would love you to chime in. What tips and tricks did you or do you use? What fueled you through stressful days? Who is your support group?

Happy Breastfeeding,


Monday, July 4, 2011

Breastfeeding Help in St. Augustine

I wanted to do a quick summary of the available resources for breastfeeding and planning to breastfeed moms in St. Augustine.

Obviously I want to mention Milk Mentors, but I think I will do it in order of type of resource, so here we go...

Breastfeeding Classes

Milk Mentors has on Location Breastfeeding Classes in OB and Midwife offices in the area. If your Doctor does not host a class you are welcome to attend any of the classes held in office waiting rooms. Check the calendar at

The WIC office at the St. Johns County Health Department hosts breastfeeding classes for WIC clients in their waiting rooms on Fridays at 10 AM. You can reach the breastfeeding program at WIC at (904) 825-5055.

Flagler Hospital has a Parenting Class that includes a segment about breastfeeding.

Lactation Assessments

If you are having trouble breastfeeding asking for help is imparative. Most breastfeeding issues can be resolved quickly.

Milk Mentors provides In-Home and Office Lactation assessments for women who need a one-on-one consultation. You can reach a Milk Mentors Lactation Counselor 24/7 by calling (904) 315-5813 or call the Support Line at (904) 495-3210.

WIC at the St. Johns County Health Department has a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program that includes mother to mother support with trained peer counselors and a Certified Lactation Counselor on staff for supporting more complicated issues.

Flagler Hospital says that you can call for help at (904) 819-4061, but often one of the lactation professionals will make time to see you in an outpatient setting.

Support Groups

Milk Mentors hosts a weekly support group on Wednesdays at 10 AM at Growing Families Birth Center.

Flagler Hospital and WIC host a combined monthly support group that meets on the 2nd Thursday of every month from 11-12:30 PM at the Flagler Hospital Wellness Center. For more information visit

Ancient City Breastfeeding Support recently began hosting a monthly meeting on Thursdays near the end of the month at the Anastasia Library. Their next meeting from today is July 28 at 10 AM.

Milk Mentors provides myriad of additional services including lactation support to home birth clients, phone consultations, Milk Men Tours, Parenting classes, and OB and Pediatrician Breastfeeding Savvy Seminars.  To see a complete and detailed list go to

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Semantics of Breastfeeding Support

 I just read a very interesting article about the language we use to support or not support breastfeeding. The author, Diane Wiessinger, MS, IBCLC, believes we emphasize the positives of breastfeeding as if they are optional instead of clearly communicating the risks of formula feeding. As the daughter of a linguist, I love what she is saying, but I can't figure out how to change my language and still reach women who are on the fence about whether or not to breastfeed without handing out her article. 

The truth is, Lactation Consultants have a bad reputation for saying it's my way or the high way. They have nick names like "Boob Nazi" and are said to "beat you with their breastfeeding stick". I certainly don't want that reputation, and besides, not only do you catch more flies with honey than you can hit with a swatter, I am just not that into forcing people into my point of view. As my childhood friend Missy always says, "You have the right to be wrong."

I am always saying that I want to help women who want help. If you don't care to learn about breastfeeding I certainly don't have any desire to shove it down your throat. Besides, like you, I just want to be accepted even if you don't think I should be breastfeeding my toddler on the deck at Creekside Dinery. You might not know how lonely motherhood is, and how often a breastfeeding mom has to "hide" to feel comfortable feeding her baby or to keep you from feeling uncomfortable.  

Most moms, breastfeeding or not, are struggling through the process of motherhood and we all want to hear that we are doing just fine.

With that said, Wiessigner's article, Watch Your Language, has some amazing content. My favorite quotes in her article include:

"The truth is, breastfeeding is nothing more than normal. Artificial feeding, which is neither the same nor superior, is therefore deficient, incomplete, and inferior."

"Breastfeeding is best; artificial milk is second best. Not according to the World Health Organization. Its hierarchy is: 1) breastfeeding; 2) the mother's own milk expressed and given to her child some other way; 3) the milk of another human mother; and 4) artificial milk feeds (4)."

"Most of us have seen well-informed mothers struggle unsuccessfully to establish breastfeeding, and turn to bottle feeding with a sense of acceptance because they know they did their best. And we have seen less well-informed mothers later rage against a system that did not give them the resources they later discovered they needed. Help a mother who says she feels guilty to analyze her feelings, and you may uncover a very different emotion. Someone long ago handed these mothers the word "guilt." It is the wrong word. " 

"Breastfeeding. Most other mammals never even see their own milk, and I doubt that any other mammalian mother deliberately "feeds" her young by basing her nursing intervals on what she infers the baby's hunger level to be. Nursing quiets her young and no doubt feels good. We are the only mammal that consciously uses nursing to transfer calories...and we're the only mammal that has chronic trouble making that transfer."

"Women may say they "breastfed" for three months, but they usually say they "nursed" for three years." 


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Nursing Beyond A Year

I always knew I wanted to be a mom and I always knew I wanted to breastfeed. I am the youngest of four children, and my mom successfully breastfed all of us. It was just in my DNA to breastfeed!

A 36 hour labor with my first, Taj, and ten day stay in the NICU was not the ideal start for breastfeeding bliss. He was diagnosed with “breastfeeding jaundice”. The doctor had me stop feeding at the breast (which was going great) and pump and feed my milk. They do this to make sure the baby is getting enough. The hard part was getting him back to the breast. I tried so hard, and after days of tears and frustration I left the NICU with zero success at feeding at the breast. I then committed myself to pumping and feeding or what I like to call double duty! With much dedication, I pumped every three hours. My pump never left my side and the sound of the pump “eeh-ha eeh-ha eeh-ha” is burned into my memory for life! Formula was just not an option for me.

So I pumped and I fed and I pumped and I fed for five long months. Dealing with the loss of my sister brought me so close to my breaking point. I probably would have succumbed to the formula gods when suddenly my luck shifted. Taj awoke in the middle of the night (out of our normal routine) and he was HUNGRY!!! I had forgotten to clean my pump the night before. I had two choices: I could get up clean my pump and then pump for 15-20 minutes while listening to him scream his head off, or I could just try to latch him. So, in a pitch black room Taj latched on perfectly and we continued this perfect relationship for 14 months.

Looking back there are a few things I would have done differently. First of all, I would have contacted a lactation professional immediately and attended support groups until I was able to feed Taj at the breast, thus shortening the duration of all that FUN pumping and giving me more time to spend with Taj. Another thing I wish I would have considered was nursing well beyond the first year. In my head I had committed my nipples for at least one year, but didn’t fully understand that there are benefits to breastfeeding beyond a year.

From what I know and have witnessed, breastfeeding children substantially advances their cognitive development. My cousin Daniel was breastfed well into second year of life and mastered the rubix cube by age three! Then there is my neighbor’s daughter, Brooke, who is swimming, potty trained and having conversations all before age two! There is research to prove this. Extensive research on the relationship between cognitive achievement and breastfeeding has shown the greatest gains for those children breastfed the longest.

Breastfeeding children are sick less often. Antibodies are present in human milk throughout lactation. Studies show that immunity actually increases during the second year and weaning process.

Breastfeeding children adjust better and thrive socially. Breastfeeding is a soft and gentle way to meet the never ending needs of toddlers and young children. It is natures way of soothing the frustrations, bumps and bruises, and daily stresses of early life.

Breastfeeding beyond a year is normal. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that “Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child... Increased duration of breastfeeding confers significant health and developmental benefits for the child and the mother... There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychological or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.” The World Health Organization recommends nursing well into the second year of life!

Moms also benefit from nursing beyond a year. Extended nursing delays the onset of fertility in some women by suppressing ovulation. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer and endometrial cancer. Studies have found a significant inverse association between duration of lactation and breast cancer risk. Breastfeeding protects against osteoporosis. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. Breastfeeding has been shown to decrease insulin requirements in diabetic women. My favorite benefit helps mom to return to pre-pregnancy shape quicker due to the calorie demand of making milk! "Breast milk continues to provide substantial amounts of key nutrients well beyond the first year of life, especially protein, fat, and most vitamins." -- Dewey 2001

In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breast milk provides: 29% of energy requirements 43% of protein requirements 36% of calcium requirements 75% of vitamin A requirements 76% of folate requirements 94% of vitamin B12 requirements 60% of vitamin C requirements -- Dewey 2001

WOW! That was an earful or an eyeful however you want to put it! If you are thinking about nursing beyond a year DO IT! Do it for me! Oh, and I am jealous of all you moms out there with your cute toddler feeding stories! But don’t feel bad. I plan to have some with Junie!

So tell me what you think? How do you feel about nursing a toddler? Tell me your thoughts. How have you enjoyed breastfeeding beyond a year? Do you wish you would have nursed longer? Happy Breastfeeding,Shannon

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Moms Against Judging Moms

Happy Mother's Day to all you Mamas out there.

We have a variety of parenting styles represented in our support group meetings: women who planned to try breastfeeding and are now hooked, women who used to judge others for not breastfeeding and now are full of compassion, women who don't want to breastfeed beyond 6 months even if its going great, women who co-sleep, women who work, women who cloth diaper, and on and on. We have an equal number of different baby personalities represented.

Many of the mothers in our group report conflict with their own mother or mother-in-law over their different parenting styles including how and how often or where they breastfeed. Comments like, "I pumped all weekend so my mother-in-law could feed the baby and then she was angry that I didn't allow her to be involved," or , "My mother thinks its great that I'm breastfeeding, but tells me I am doing the wrong thing by letting the baby fall asleep at the breast and she is embarrassed if I breastfeed in public." You know what I'm talking about.

We all struggle to stake out our own parenting ground, and it is quite possible that mothers feel criticized when their children make different parenting choices than they did. In 1975, 70% of women were formula feeding, so many breastfeeding mom's were not breastfed. I am one of the fortunate few whose mother wanted to breastfeed and was determined to do it. My mother remembers being criticized by feminists who told her she could rot in a rocking chair if that was her choice, and she was criticized by the La Leche League in her town for not nursing her children past age 2 1/2. It appeared that she couldn't win.

My mother in law did not breastfeed because artificial breast milk was presented to her as an equal to breast milk. Me defending my choice to breastfeed might have felt like criticism to her.

Best for Babes has done an amazing job discussing the gape between mother's and daughters in a series called The Next Generation of Moms: When Breastfeeding Comes Full Circle.

Let's be kind to all mommies. We are in the parenting journey together and we are all going to make some mistakes. Not every choice is right for every women or baby or family. Lets not judge one another.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Looking for Something Green to Do this Earth Day? Breastfeed Your Baby!

Deciding to breastfeed your baby is the GREENEST, eco-friendliest decision you will ever make.

Mother nature designed human milk to be the cleanest, purest fuel. It is species specific, providing everything the body needs for health. In contrast to formula, human milk requires no processing, packaging and in no way pollutes the environment.

Women are more likely to breastfeed having seen the act of breastfeeding.

This Earth Day and everyday lets focus on making breastfeeding the norm. Nurse in public and do it proudly!

Below is an article about how green breastfeeding is from

1. Breastfeeding saves energy
Breast milk is ready to go straight from the tap, and it's already the perfect temperature for your baby — no heating required. Breastfeeding saves the energy needed to mass produce and distribute baby bottles and formula, and even recycling the bottles consumes energy. Breast milk, however, has its own convenient storage facility. While many parents make a few bottles of formula at once and store them in the fridge, breasts don't need to be kept on ice.
2. Breastfeeding is plastic-free

Most baby bottles on the market contain various forms of plastic. Plastic, usually made with oil, is one of the world's worst environmental scorns. There are no hard-and-fast numbers about just how much petroleum is used to make plastic, but most studies estimate that it accounts for about 8 percent of the world's yearly oil consumption. Besides draining fuel resources, plastics produce harmful and toxic wastes such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and more, all of which are taking a toll on the air, water and soil, not to mention our health. Lastly, as much as people love to talk about recycling, many plastic bottles never even make it to the recycling plant, and even when they do, they aren't typically recycled into new bottles. Plastics are not part of a closed-loop recycling plan. Instead plastics are downcycled into other products, a process that may not be energy or cost-efficient.
3. Breastfeeding is biodegradable
Baby bottles are a very specific product. While you may be able to repurpose some for other household applications (think paint dispensers and marble jars) they're really only useful for one task — feeding your baby. You can buy plastic, glass or even Earth-friendly bottles, but in the end, you've got a product on your hands with limited usefulness and a limited lifespan. You can recycle some bottles, sure, but even with recyclable ones, not all parts are recyclable (such as the nipples and liners), and that contributes to our overstuffed landfill issue. We're not ancient Greeks, but like them, our baby bottles do not biodegrade.
4. Breastfeeding reduces waste
Bottles and formula present a costly and excessive packaging problem. Boxes, paper and plastics that take energy both to manufacture and recycle are used to package bottles, bottle accessories and formula. Meanwhile, a mother's milk is waste-free, unless of course you count Victoria's Secret as fancy breast-milk packaging. But, hey, at least they're working on organics and going green!
5. Breastfeeding reduces gasoline use
Breastfeeding stops those late-night trips to the grocery store for formula. Breastfeeding reduces the need for gasoline used to ship bottles and formula. Breastfeeding may even reduce drives to the pediatrician's office, since breastfed babies are typically healthier.
6. Breastfeeding reduces exposure to chemicals
Many brands of baby bottles in recent years have been shown to leach dangerous chemicals such as bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates both into babies' milk and into the air, soil and water. You can choose lead-free glass baby bottles over traditional plastic ones, but these pose their own breakage and recycling issues. You can also buy nontoxic baby bottles, although these can be expensive. If you're concerned about toxins in breast milk, research suggests you shouldn't worry. While breast milk can contain low levels of toxins, formula presents much larger ecological problems. The most economical, nontoxic choice for your baby and the planet is breastfeeding.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Nursing Wear

Sorry for the long time between posts. I have so many things I'd like to blog about, and I want to be thorough. I love it when you participate here or on facebook.

Last week during our Wednesday morning support group the mother of an eight week old baby showed the mother of a two week old baby her nursing shirt. Having never seen nursing wear before, the second mother was astounded and amazed.

Nursing wear includes shirts, dresses, tanks, bras and so on that have flaps, holes and hooks to make nursing a baby easy and discreet. It's kind of like the woman's version of a fly opening, except its for feeding.

I bought nursing bras from Target right after Micah was born, and eventually got a nice Medela bra that I liked a lot. The problem with the bras was that while nursing, my breasts didn't stay the same size over the years I was breastfeeding each child.

I was first introduced to nursing tops when Micah was a few months old. The mother of a much older baby (her 2nd) was in the "nursing room" at church. As usual we were talking instead of listening to the sermon, and she showed me her crisp white nursing top and how her stomach stayed covered while she fed her baby girl. I was thrilled by the idea. Micah was a big baby (8 lbs 6 oz, 22 in), well at least big for me, and I had acquired quite a few stretch marks during the last three weeks of my pregnancy. The marks were still fresh, and I was not intrested in showing my "ground beef" skin, along with the poochy belly that hadn't yet become rock hard again (still waiting for that)!

My friend had found the nursing tops at Motherhood Maternity so I bought three tops for about $90 and, well, didn't wear them much. I needed two hands just to manage the shirt, and latching a starving, rooting baby on through layers of clothing didn't work for me. Soon I discovered I was more comfortable in a sports bra or other bra, lifting my shirt, and latching the baby on. I got pretty discreet, too, and many times people came to coo at my baby only to discover he was eating!

After Lorelei was born I discovered nursing tank tops. Now these I love. I am still wearing them with Finn now 15 months old. They function as a nursing bra with a latch on the strap, but can be used the same way a sports bra works if I don't have time to unlatch the bra, and they cover my tummy and can be worn under a shirt. Also, they come in many sizes. I had trouble finding nursing shirts in an XS when I was breastfeeding Micah.

The world of nursing wear has seriously expanded since Micah was born in 2003. Gap/Old Navy have jumped on board and have many sizes and basic styles that are usually comfortable and easy to use.

                               I even saw matching mother/baby nursing sets at Old Navy.

For more sophisticated and also more expensive nursing wear there is

There are even a few Etsy shops who make/carry nursing wear.

What are your favorite nursing clothes?