Archive for May, 2011

Podcast: Breastfeeding in the military

In honor of Memorial Day we’re very happy to share this podcast interview with Robyn Roche-Paull, author of Breastfeeding in Combat Boots.

Robyn is a US Navy veteran who breastfed while serving on active duty as an aircraft mechanic, and is a lactation consultant and La Leche League leader.  Her work focuses on helping mothers on active duty continue to breastfeed after returning to work.  You can find more information about breastfeeding while in the military at her website and Facebook page.

Tanya spoke with Robyn about special challenges mothers in the military face when it comes to breastfeeding, stories of mothers making it work under challenging circumstances, policies that impact mothers ability to breastfeed while in the service, and some practical advice for preparing  to pump at work.

You can listen to the podcast with the player below, download it and listen with Quicktime, or get it at Motherlove’s free iTunes store!


Postpartum mood disorders: Know if you have one, and where to turn for help

May is National Maternal Depression Awareness Month, and with 15-20% of mothers suffering from some kind of postpartum mood disorder (depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress), we thought we’d present a few answers to common questions.

We posed some questions about postpartum depression and other postpartum mood disorders to Annette Cycon, LICSW and founder and director of training for MotherWoman:

Can you describe the range of postpartum emotional difficulties that mothers sometimes experience?

Becoming a mother is a wonderful but difficult experience. Physically we have to make the adjustment from pregnancy through birth, to recovery and lactation. Even adoptive mothers, and fathers experience enormous adjustment to new parenthood. Lack of sleep and revolving one’s life around the inexplicable needs of a tiny baby is exhausting physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. It is the steepest learning curve of our lifetime. Therefore it is no surprise that all parents experience a roller coaster of feelings from elation and tears of joy, to confusion, anxiety, fear and sadness. There is a spectrum of emotional experiences that mothers can have. Most are normal and do not last, some last longer and feel worse like depression or anxiety that just doesn’t go away. A rare group of mothers experience a level of disorientation that is not safe.  Here is Motherwoman’s description of those feeling states and what helps.

How can moms tell if what they’re experiencing is the baby blues or something more serious?

Please see our description of the postpartum emotional spectrum.  It’s probably the baby blues if feelings of sadness do not last all day everyday, if feelings of sadness are balanced by experiences of joy and ease, especially if the mother is getting the right support. Baby blues should diminish within a few weeks postpartum. If mom is feeling sad all day everyday, despair, hopeless, ambivalent connection to her baby, disconnected to others, panic attacks, inability to sleep, etc, she may be experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety.

Where can moms turn if they’re experiencing postpartum emotional difficulties?

Support groups where she can talk with other new moms are very helpful. Postpartum support groups that specialize in the emotional experience of the mother will provide the most help if a mother is struggling, so she knows she is not alone and she can get the specialized education and support she needs and deserves. Talking with her OB or midwife and being honest about how she is feeling, and talking with therapists who specialize in Postpartum Emotional Complications is very helpful. There are websites like Postpartum Support International that are helpful and mommy blogs for moms who are reaching out for support that way.


Using Goat’s Rue to increase your milk supply

Goat’s rue ( Galega officinalis) is an herb which has been long used to increase milk supply.

Never heard of it?  That may be because it’s a popular galactagogue in France but is less well known in the U.S.  But we think that’s going to change as more people get to know this pretty and powerful plant.

What’s special about this herb?

Developing mammary tissue. Goat’s rue is one of the most potent herbs to stimulate the development of mammary tissue.  For this reason, it can be particularly helpful for women who did not experience breast growth during pregnancy, women with insufficient glandular tissue/breast hypoplasia, women who have had breast surgeries, and adoptive mothers.  It’s even used to increase breast size in non-lactating women.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Goat’s rue may also be helpful for mothers who have low milk supply as a result of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).  In a guest post on PCOS on our blog, Lisa Marasco, IBCLC explained: “Metformin was originally developed from the herb goat’s rue, which is known for its antidiabetic properties as well as its reputed ability to stimulate milk production and breast gland development. This makes goat’s rue particularly appropriate for women with PCOS who are struggling with low milk supply.”

Motherlove sells goat’s rue in several forms:  As a single-herb liquid extract and liquid capsule and in More Milk Special Blend.  More Milk Special Blend is our best-selling More Milk Plus formula with added goat’s rue – a product we developed at the request of lactation consultants.  It’s sold as a liquid extract, an alcohol free liquid extract, and alcohol free liquid capsules.

For more information on the use of goat’s rue to increase milk supply, see this page on Low Milk Supply.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.  Image source: Wikimedia Commons.

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Favorite online breastfeeding resources

With all of the breastfeeding information available online, it can be tricky to find a trusted, reliable source for good breastfeeding support.

So we asked you on Facebook where you go for breastfeeding information on the web.  Here’s where you told us you go:

We love this list, and would like to add a few of our favorites:

  • Best for Babes (for support, inspiration, and advocacy – and a Motherlove sponsored organization!)

Want to know if a site is giving you evidence-based information?  Look for sites written by board-certified lactation consultants (IBCLCs) or other credentialed breastfeeding support people.  It’s best to steer clear of sites that violate the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (a dead give away:  they’re sponsored by companies that are trying to sell formula).



Happy Mother’s Day from Motherlove!

We’re wishing all mothers a wonderful Mother’s Day this Sunday!

We thought you’d enjoy this video, “Your House is Strong,” produced by MotherWoman, an organization dedicated to supporting and empowering mothers to create positive personal and social change.  Motherwoman teamed up with internationally-known singer/songwriters The Nields to produce this video honoring the gifts we’ve been given by mothers.

Motherlove wishes you the best for this special day!

Four artistic ways to honor a pregnant belly

It makes you waddle.  It enters the room before you do.  It makes it nearly impossible to get up from the couch.

However it makes you feel, your belly (otherwise known as your baby) makes a statement.  And save a few stretch marks, that bump is gone in flash with few tangible reminders.

To honor your baby and the bump it occupies, why not get a little creative?  Below we share several ideas for artistic ways to celebrate your bump.

Belly casting. You can create a plaster mold of your belly (and your breasts if you choose) to commemorate, in three dimensional form, the shape of you and your baby.  You can follow these instructions, buy a kit, or maybe even find a ceramic artist who creates belly casts.  You can create a cast with your partner, your older kids, even at a shower.  Leave it plain or paint it – either way it’ll be a treasured keepsake.

Henna. In India, Egypt and the Middle East, the ancient art of henna (also called mehndi) has been applied to mothers’ pregnant bellies for thousands of years.  Said to bring a safe birth and happy baby, this temporary dying of the skin, which lasts one to four weeks, is done using a natural henna paint and involves beautifully intricate designs which can symbolize new life and the journey into motherhood.  You can buy a pregnancy henna kit, draw your own designs freehand or with stencils, or hire a henna artist who specializes in pregnancy.  Just be sure to use natural henna and not  “black henna” (henna with chemical additives), and it’s not recommended if you are extremely anemic or the baby has G6PD deficiency.

Paint. Does your belly remind you of the earth?  A pumpkin?  Does it inspire flowers or footprints?  Think of your belly as a canvas and paint away.  Just remember to use paint approved for use on skin.  Follow these instructions or buy a kit.  See these pictures for some inspiration!

Creative photography. No doubt you have some pictures of your belly, but with a little help and some creativity you can create more unusual and special images.  Here are some great tips, including involving siblings, getting outside, and simplifying the surroundings.  You may want to hire a professional – be sure to check out their portfolio of  pregnancy work first – but your partner or friend may be just as good if given a little guidance.



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