Archive for March, 2012

How long can you store breast milk?

We know that many of you pump your milk, either for work or for occasional times away from your babies.

We also know that figuring out how long your milk can safely stay on the counter, in the fridge or a cooler, and in the freezer can be a confusing process.

In an attempt to reduce the confusion, we looked at the many available breast milk storage guidelines, and are sharing the most recently updated guidelines from the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.  The Academy is an organization or physicians dedicated to supporting breastfeeding.

These guidelines are current and well referenced, are more specific (showing optimal and acceptable storage lengths) than other sets of guidelines, and are recognized by the Centers for Disease Control.  La Leche League’s guidelines‘s are quite similar.  They are intended for use with full term infants.

Milk Storage Guidelines, Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Clinical Protocol #8, revised March 2010

Location Temperature Optimal storage length Acceptable storage length
Room temperature 60-85°F (60-29°C) 3–4 hours 6–8 hours acceptable under very clean conditions
Refrigerator 39°F (<4°C) 72 hours 5–8 days under very clean conditions
Freezer 0°F (<-17°C) 6 months 12 months
Small cooler with ice pack 59°F (15°C) n/a 24 hours (though evidence is poor)

Additional notes:

“Previously frozen human milk that has been thawed for 24 hours should not be left out at room temperature for more than a few hours.”

“Once a baby begins drinking expressed human milk, some bacterial contamination occurs in the milk from the baby’s mouth. The duration of time the milk can be kept at room temperature once the baby has partially  fed from the cup or bottle would theoretically depend on the initial bacterial load in the milk, how long the milk has been thawed, and the ambient temperature. There have been no studies done to provide recommendations in this regard. Based on related evidence thus far, it seems reasonable to discard the remaining milk within 1–2 hours after the baby is finished feeding.”

There is little information on refreezing of thawed human milk. Bacterial growth and loss of antibacterial  activity in thawed milk will vary depending on the technique of milk thawing, duration of the thaw, and the amount of bacteria in the milk at the time of expression.  At this time no recommendations can be made on the refreezing of thawed human milk.

Photo credit:  Wikimedia Commons

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Making gardening easy: The Urban Farm Company of Colorado

At Motherlove, our roots are in the dirt!  Our founder, Kathryn Higgins, grew up tending her family’s country garden, and she continues to maintain a large garden.  Her connection with the natural world is the foundation for her passion for herbal healing.

That’s why we’re happy to share this interview with the founder of The Urban Farm Company of Colorado- a new company in our area which makes gardening accessible to even the most intimidated and time starved of us.  We asked its founder, Bryant Mason to explain how his company works.  Bryant has worked in local food and gardening, served as a research fellow studying socially responsible endowment investment, and interned at Natural Capitalism Solutions.  He co-founded and led “CU Going Local,” a sustainable food and agriculture student group at the University of Colorado.

How does your company help people grow their own food?

Our goal is to make gardening more easy, simple, and fun! I believe that gardening doesn’t have to be a chore, and should be an integral and fulfilling part of people’s lives. I also believe that vegetable gardening is one of the best ways for people to reconnect and learn about our planet, our community, and ourselves.The Urban Farm Company of Colorado helps individual households and businesses install high-yield, raised vegetable gardens.  After an installation, our customers have access to an extensive online database of gardening resources (from suggested crops for Northern Colorado to how to harvest and store vegetables).  Our gardening method is intended to simplify and streamline the process for someone who has never gardened before, and has very little to do so.  Our optimal soil mix is nutrient rich, our beds require no fertilizer or tilling, and our growing method is very high-yield per unit area.  Customers can purchase additional products and services such as monthly garden coaching and drip irrigation to supplement their garden and simplify the growing process even further.  Our customers will be incorporated into a Growers’ Network, offering additional benefits like cooking and gardening classes.  Ten percent of our profits will go toward subsidized gardens for low-income communities and families.  For more information, check out our website.

There are many benefits of growing your own food.  What’s your favorite?

My favorite benefit of gardening is one few people know about. There is a bacteria in soil called mycobacterium vaccae. When gardening, you breath in this bacteria and your bodies immune response creates serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is an anti-depressant, improves mood, and boosts overall happiness! Who needs prescription drugs when you have soil?

Why do you install raised beds instead of preparing the soil in people’s yards?

It takes a gardener on average 7 years to get their soil “just right” from amending it. In Colorado, our soil is very full of clay, making a ‘double dig’ incredibly difficult. With raised beds, we can fill them with an optimal soil mix on day one, and skip the years of low yields and nutrient-poor soil. Because this soil is so valuable, the raised beds contain the mix. Raised beds also make it easier to connect cold frames and trellises, and simply look better in your yard!

What do you think stops most people from growing food in their yards?

Where do you start and how do you go about doing it? People are often times daunted by the process. While gardening is a simple concept, there are actually several snippets of important things you need to know to have a thriving garden. Learning these things can be difficult with such a hodgepodge of information online, and many people don’t want to spend their weekends weeding their garden or digging in their clay-filled soil. Also, gardening has been branded as the ‘grandma’s hobby’. We want to make gardening more hip and cool so everyone wants to do it.

You advocate “disruptive eating.”  What does that term mean?

It’s a term that I made up. My goal is to create a business model that disrupts the status quo of agriculture. The beauty of gardening and eating is that everyone makes dozens of food choices every day, so everyone has the power to disrupt this status quo through food. By making ethical, conscious, and healthy food choices, a person is making a tremendous positive difference in the world. Luckily these larger goals are perfectly aligned with the pleasurable-driven goals of eating tastier and more nutritious food!

Podcast: Actress Mayim Bialik on attachment parenting “Beyond the Sling”

We’re very excited to share an interview with actress Mayim Bialik!

Mayim is best known for her roles as Blossom Russo on the ’90′s sitcom Blossom, as a young Bette Midler in Beaches, and currently as Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory.  She received a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA in 2007.

But did you know that Mayim is also lactation educator and spokesperson for the Holistic Moms Network?  Her new book, Beyond the Sling: A real-life guide to raising confident, loving children the attachment parenting way is out this week.

She talked with Tanya Lieberman about the intersection of her life as a scientist and as a mother, how breastfeeding figured into her parenting experience, why attachment parenting appeals to a broad spectrum of faiths, why her husband initially thought that elimination communication was a ridiculous idea, and how she straddles the worlds of Hollywood and parenting.

You can listen to the interview using the player below, with Quicktime, or by downloading it from Motherlove’s free iTunes store.


What is a Baby Friendly Hospital?

At Motherlove, we strongly support the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative.  We think that every expecting mom who is planning a hospital birth should know about Baby Friendly Hospitals, so we thought we’d answer a few common questions here:

What is a Baby Friendly Hospital?

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is a program sponsored by the World Health Organization and UNICEF to encourage and recognize hospitals that provide evidence-based breastfeeding care.

A Baby Friendly Hospital is one which has been certified as fully complying with the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.  To become Baby Friendly, hospitals undergo a lengthy certification process and an independent evaluation to determine that they have met all of the Baby Friendly criteria.

What are the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding?

To become Baby Friendly, hospitals must demonstrate that they comply with the following evidence-based policies:

  1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
  2. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
  3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within an hour of birth.
  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed, and how to maintain lactation even if they should be separated from their infants.
  6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
  7. Practice rooming-in – that is, allow mothers and infants to remain together – 24 hours a day.
  8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
  9. Give no artificial teats or pacifiers to breastfeeding infants.
  10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic

What difference does it make if I birth at a Baby Friendly Hospital or somewhere else?

Research has repeatedly shown that mothers who birth at Baby Friendly hospitals are more likely to breastfeed, breastfeed longer, and breastfeed more exclusively. That’s because the 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are based on research showing which policies support – and which undermine – breastfeeding.  So, while it’s certainly possible to breastfeed successfully if you don’t birth at a Baby Friendly Hospital, you will probably encounter far fewer barriers to meeting your breastfeeding goals if you birth at one.

How can I find a Baby Friendly Hospital near me?

As of December, 2011, there were 125 Baby Friendly Hospitals in the U.S.  You can find a complete list of them here.

Many hospitals are in the process of becoming Baby Friendly, and the Centers for Disease Control recently announced that they’ll be supporting the certification of many more.  Kaiser Permanente also recently announced an initiative to make many of their hospitals Baby Friendly.

What can I do if I don’t live near a Baby Friendly Hospital, or my insurance limits my options?

Sadly, many mothers don’t live near a Baby Friendly hospital.  The CDC estimates that only 5% of all births occurs at a Baby Friendly Hospital today.  And the unfortunate truth is that most hospitals don’t meet the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.  In 2009, for example, only one in three hospitals reported to the CDC that they practicing rooming in (Step 7).

This is changing, but if you’re pregnant now you can’t exactly wait!  So what can you do if you can’t birth at a Baby Friendly Hospital but want the best breastfeeding care you can get?

  1. You can write a breastfeeding-friendly birth plan, based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, and discuss with your providers your wishes for a birth and newborn period that supports your intention to breastfeed.  If you’re planning to birth at home, you can discuss these same issues with your providers.
  2. You can request your area hospitals’ mPINC scores.  One relatively unknown fact is that all hospitals report their compliance with the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding to the CDC.  The CDC compiles this information and gives each hospital a score, known as the mPINC score.  Hospitals do not have to disclose their performance to the public, but mothers are free to request it from their local hospitals if they wish.  This information, if you can get it, could be useful in evaluating how breastfeeding-friendly your birth options are.
  3. And if you’re feeling ambitious, you can launch a community campaign, as these mothers did, to push your local hospitals to become Baby Friendly!



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