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U.S. maternity leave policy and its effect on families: A podcast interview with Moms Rising

Businesswoman Holding a BabyDid you know that the U.S. is one of only a handful of countries that does not offer new mothers paid family leave?   The other countries:  Papua New Guinea, Lesotho, and Swaziland.

In this podcast interview we spoke with Charlie Rose, associate campaign director for MomsRising.org, a national organization with over a million members advocating for family economic security.

Charlie spoke about how few moms have paid parental leave, how much leave moms actually take, the health and economic costs of our current policy, how current policy affects the role of partners, and what Moms Rising is doing to advocate for better policies.

You can listen to this podcast with the player below, listen with Quicktime, or download the podcast from our free iTunes store.

Suddenly up all night nursing? Welcome to reverse cycling.

asleepHave a consistently sleeping baby who suddenly wants to nurse all night?

It’s a common scenario for babies whose moms have returned to work, babies who are too busy or distracted to eat during the day, and teething babies.  And it has a name: reverse cycling.

Why does reverse cycling happen?  There is usually a reason.  Babies want food, comfort, or both at night, often because they aren’t getting as much as they want or need during the day.

A typical case is a baby who doesn’t like to take a bottle at day care, who “sips” enough during the day to make it the reunion with her mom at the end of the workday – when the all night feast starts.  Or a baby who is adjusting to having less frequent contact with his mom during the day now that she’s gone back to work, and so wants more comforting at night.  Occasionally, it’s the mom who is so busy juggling multiple kids during the day that feedings are not frequent enough, or not long enough.

So if your baby is reverse cycling, what can you do?

First, identify a possible reason why he has adopted this pattern.  Is he not eating enough during the day?  Too distracted to eat much during waking hours?

Then, address look for ways to address her needs.  Our favorite resource page is at kellymom.com, where you’ll find lots of tips for different situations.    You’ll also find some tips for making reverse cycling work (and why some moms even encourage it) on this page.  You may also want to check out our podcast interview with Nancy Mohrbacher on night nursing.

And whatever you decide to do, take heart in the knowledge that this pattern will pass in time!

Pumping at work? Print out these free door hangers

door hangerIf you’re pumping at work and lucky enough to have a door to close at work, what signage do you use to keep people from barging in?

There are all kinds of ways of indicating that you’d would like some privacy, but we thought we’d share several free door hangers you can print out, cut out, and post!

Texas WIC program:  Breastmilk – Every Ounce Counts

New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force:  Doorhanger includes information about state law on pumping at work

Bellabama:  Uses the International Breastfeeding Symbol

Code Name Mama:  Pumping Pixie (donations requested to purchase pumping bustiers for women in domestic violence shelters).

These doorhangers from a company local to us are not free, but we love them!

Or create your own with this free door hanger template.

And check out these hilarious ones (not printable, but worth a look!).

Herbal poultices for engorgement

406px-Kamomillasaunio_(Matricaria_recutita)There are many remedies for breast engorgement, ranging from massage, to cold packs, to cabbage.

But did you know that herbs – in the form of a poultice – can also help reduce swelling and inflammation associated with engorgement?

What’s a poultice?  It’s an age-old way of treating soreness and inflammation, using moist herbs applied directly to the skin, usually held in place with a cloth.

Herbs that work well in a breast compress are anti-inflammatory and reduce swelling (comfrey, chamomile, calendula, lavender), increase lymph circulation and drainage (cleavers, burdock root, yarrow), and draw out infection (slippery elm, marshmallow root).  Mullein leaf relieves pain.

To prepare, pour boiling water over the herbs and steep for 10-15 minutes.  When cool enough to touch, apply herbs as a poultice directly to skin.  You can also dip a cotton cloth in the warm infusion, wring it out and wrap around the breast and under the armpit.  Keep the poultice on until it cools.  Reapply throughout the day.  If infection is present, a clean poultice or cloth should be used every time.

For a comprehensive discussion of engorgement, including prevention, treatment, and when to seek help, see this page on Kellymom.com.

Image credit:  Chamomile, Wikimedia Commons

Common breastfeeding concerns? There’s an app for that.

breastfeeding solutions appPain.  Milk supply worries.  Sleep (and lack thereof).  A fussy baby.  Pumping.

These are common concerns during breastfeeding, and they’re perennial hot topics at breastfeeding and new mom support groups.  Of course, there are many books that cover these issues, too.

But what if you want quick, reliable information from a trusted source in your purse and on your nightstand any time of day or night?

Nancy Mohrbacher, author of many of the best books on breastfeeding money can buy, like Breastfeeding Made Simple, Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple, and Breastfeeding Solutions, has produced a new app for iPhone and Android devices that covers all the basics.  We spoke with Nancy last year in a podcast interview about night nursing.

Based on her book Breastfeeding Solutions, this app providing straightforward solutions to the 30 most common breastfeeding problems, from birth to weaning.  There is a “Solutions” section to help you pinpoint a problem’s cause, and for for answers to common concerns there is a comprehensive “Articles” section.  It’s ad free and not sponsored by a formula or other company.  Its creator is a board certified lactation consultant and is one of the most knowledgeable individuals on breastfeeding on the planet.

The Breastfeeding Solutions app sells for $6.99 and we think it’s one of the best investments you could make to ensure that you meet your breastfeeding goals.  You can find it at the iTunes and Amazon (for Android) and Google Play stores.

Ten important ways partners can support breastfeeding moms

USMC-091029-M-6037K-001Support from partners can make breastfeeding go much more smoothly for nursing moms.  But some partners find themselves feeling unsure how to help and sometimes a bit left out.

Here are ten important ways partners can help make breastfeeding a good experience for the whole family:

Learn about breastfeeding.  During pregnancy, attending a breastfeeding class with the mom-to-be helps partners understand what’s involved and how to prepare.  Or if a class isn’t available, partners can read a breastfeeding book to get the basics down.

Help to develop a breastfeeding-friendly birth and newborn care plan.  There are many decisions to be made regarding both labor and birth and also the newborn care period, and these decisions can have a big impact on breastfeeding.  Partners can read up on breastfeeding-friendly birth and newborn care plans, and work with the mom to develop one that sets her up for success.

Help prepare for a lower intervention labor and birth.  Research has shown that lower intervention birth makes breastfeeding easier.  So a partner can learn ways of helping a mom cope with the discomfort of labor, including learning non-drug means of pain relief such as partner massage, hiring a doula, and choosing a practice and hospital with a record of lower intervention births.

Help her find breastfeeding help.  Many nursing moms need help getting breastfeeding going well in the early days and weeks, but it’s hard to seek out help while caring for a new baby and recovering from birth.  Partners can take off some of the burden of finding help by identifying sources of support such as lactation consultants, WIC, La Leche League, and Breastfeeding USA, making appointments if necessary, and getting everyone out of the house.

Take over other responsibilities.  Breastfeeding and recovering from birth are big jobs, leaving little energy or time for much else.  So partners can take over other responsibilities – diapering, cooking, shopping, caring for older children, even returning well wishers’ phone calls.

Help her get comfortable while feeding.  Since moms clock many hours sitting or lying down to breastfeed, partners can make them comfortable by arranging pillows, stocking snacks and drinks – even finding the remote control!

Cheer her on.  For nursing moms, there’s nothing like hearing “great job!” and encouragement like this is priceless.  Pointing out how a baby is growing on her milk helps a mom step back from the daily routine and appreciate the big picture.

Listen.  There are a lot of emotions swirling around birth and breastfeeding, and simply stopping to listen to a mom talk about her feelings can be very powerful.  If her emotional state has you concerned, help her find help from a health care provider or other postpartum resource.

If planning to introduce bottle, take over those feedings.  If your family is planning to have your baby fed by bottle – as part of a return to work, for example – a partner is probably best positioned to introduce a bottle and regularly do bottle feedings.

If feeling left out, do skin-to-skin and wear your baby.  Finally, if a partner is feeling left out of the feeding equation and is craving the closeness that breastfeeding provides, regular skin-t0-skin can do wonders!   Babywearing can also be a great source of connection.

And one extra:  Document!  Nursing moms often treasure pictures of the experience, but it’s hard to be both nursing and behind the camera.  So take pictures and video to help preserve the memories.

Image credit:  Wikimedia Commons

Are you prepared for your baby’s second night?

iStock_000013464748XSmallAfter the rigors of labor and birth, most babies settle in for a restful first 24 hours outside the womb.

And then there’s the second night.

On the second night, babies often nurse on and off for hours.  Many new parents are caught off guard by this pattern, and some assume that their babies are starving.  But it’s likely just an awakening, after a nice day’s rest, to the fact that their world is now very different!

If you’re home on your baby’s second night, it may also be the first time that your baby and you have some peace and quiet, as research has shown that mothers and babies are interrupted by hospital staff, visitors, and phone calls an average of 54 times on the first day, and the average time mothers and babies have alone is 1 minute.

Research has shown that feedings on this second night tend to cluster in the 9 pm to 3 am time frame.  This can be unnerving.  What do you do?  Lactation consultant Jan Barger has some good advice in her piece, “Baby’s Second Night:”

So, what do you do? When he drifts off to sleep at the breast after a good feed, break the suction and slide your nipple gently out of his mouth. Don’t move him except to pillow his head more comfortably on your breast. Don’t try and burp him – just snuggle with him until he falls into a deep sleep where he won’t be disturbed by being moved. Babies go into a light sleep state (REM) first, and then cycle in and out of REM and deep sleep about every ½ hour or so. If he starts to root and act as though he wants to go back to breast, that’s fine…this is his way of settling and comforting.

Another helpful hint…babies need to touch – to feel – and even his touch on your breast will increase your oxytocin levels which will help boost your milk supply! So take the mittens off and loosen his blanket so he can get to his hands. He might scratch himself, but it will heal very rapidly – after all, he had fingernails when he was inside you, and no one put mittens on him then!

So don’t panic, just settle in for that special, second night!

Want to cleanse toxins from your body before trying to conceive? Listen to our podcast.

MP900442962Toxins we absorb through everyday living can make it harder for us to conceive a baby.  So how can we reduce our body’s toxic burden before trying to conceive?

In this month’s podcast interview we speak with naturopathic physician Dr. Laila Tomsovic about preconception cleansing.  We ask when to do it, whether cleansing is safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding, which foods are especially cleansing, and about the role of exercise and stress reduction in a cleanse.  You may also be interested in our interview with Dr. Tomsovic on nutrition for fertility.

You can listen to this podcast using the player below, with Quicktime, or by downloading it at our free iTunes store.

 

 

Your tips for distracted nurslings

Lunch outdoors
The cat.  Noise from a passing car.  A toy just out of reach.  Your nose.
They’re all sources of distractions which can make our nurslings pop on and off the breast.
We asked fans of our Facebook page to share your favorite tips for distracted nursers, and we’ve compiled these great suggestions below!
  • “Going into another (quiet) room”
  • “Dimmed lights”
  • “Eye contact”
  • “Singing, talking”
  • “Side-lying position”
  • “Nursing/teething necklace that he can play with. Game changer!”
  • “Holding hands”
  • “Nursing at night time”
  • “Waiting a few minutes with a small distraction in between”
  • “Holding and walking in the dark”
  • “Classical music, until she’s calm and still”
  • “Laying down in bed and holding hands or letting him play with my hand”
  • “Letting him explore whatever it is to satisfy his curiosity, and then going back to nursing”

Trauma from childbirth? Listen to our podcast interview.

iStock_000000105626XSmallDid you have intrusive thoughts about your birth?  Flashbacks?  Do you steer clear of hospitals, or try to avoid talking about your birth?

We’re very happy to share a podcast interview on trauma from childbirth, with Dr. Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, health psychologist and trauma expert.

Dr. Kendall-Tackett is health psychologist, and Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics.  She is president-elect of the Trauma Division of the American Psychological Association, and the incoming editor-in-chief of the Journal of Psychological Trauma.  She has authored more than 300 articles and 24 books on maternal depression, trauma, family violence and breastfeeding, including Depression in New Mothers and Breastfeeding Made Simple.

Dr. Kendall-Tackett discussed what trauma looks like, what experiences tend to cause trauma, partners and trauma, strategies for healing from trauma, ideas for preparing for a subsequent birth, and post-traumatic growth.  She also discusses the relationship between trauma and breastfeeding, and answers your questions submitted on Facebook.

You can listen with the player below, listen with Quicktime, or download this podcast from our free iTunes store!

 

 

 

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