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Children’s books on babywearing!

A while back we posted a long list of children’s books about breastfeeding.  We thought we’d follow it up with a list of books that depict babywearing!  There are far fewer, but they’re a great addition to a natural parenting children’s book library.

carrymeCarry Me is a board book depicting babywearing around the world.  With rhyming text and a diverse array of carrying styles, it’s an easy favorite for infants and toddlers.  An index at the back identifies each of the cultures shown.

a_ride_on_mothers_back_coverA Ride on Mother’s Back shows the many ways  mothers around the world carry their babies, from Africa to Latin America and beyond, all from a child’s point of view.  The book provides notes with more information about each tradition, and a map showing the home of each of the cultures depicted.  Beautiful illustrations and simple text make this a classic babywearing book.

Babies on the goCarryMeAnimalBabiesTwo books, Babies on the Go and Carry Me! show the ways that other animals carry their young.  A great companion to Mama’s Milk, which depicts the ways that other mammals nurse their young, these teach how normal it is for mothers of many species to carry their young.  A chart at the end of Babies on the Go identifies each animal.

$T2eC16h,!zEE9s3!Z)qdBRV1bCNTgw~~_35The Backpack Baby series of board books show, in simple and bright illustrations sure to appeal to the youngest readers, the adventures of a dad his baby carried on his back.  One book shows a bottle, but this may allow for a discussion of fathers feeding babies breastmilk when they are not with a nursing mother.

sears_williamWhat Baby Needs is a classic of attachment parenting, written by William and Martha Sears.  Among a number of topics, including breastfeeding, What Baby Needs shows both a dad and a mom carrying a baby in a sling.   It’s a wonderful book to help introduce a pregnancy and new baby to older siblings.

Are there other books depicting babywearing we should know about?  Feel free to share your favorites!

Seasonal allergies? Herbs to the rescue!

butterburAllergy season is in full swing again, so we thought we’d share some information on herbs to relieve your seasonal suffering.

We love herbs for their power to do everything from heal skin to increase milk supply, so we thought we’d share some information on the many herbs that can help with seasonal allergies.*  Sure, there are plenty of pharmaceutical solutions, but isn’t it more poetic to counter allergies caused by plants with…more plants?

Nettle.  We use nettle to increase milk supply in many of our products, but it can also be helpful in treating seasonal allergies.  Freeze-drying nettle preserves its antihistamine properties, so freeze-dried nettle is commonly recommended.  In one randomized controlled trial half of the participants found nettle to be equally or more effective than their prescription medicine.

ButterburUsed traditionally for inflammation, recent research has demonstrated the effectiveness of butterbur in treating allergies.  One study found that butterbur extract was as effective as a popular antihistamine medication in controlling symptoms of hay fever, without drowsiness.  The raw form of this plant should never be eaten, and some urge caution in using this plant if you have ragweed allergies.

Bromelain.  Bromelian is a derivative of pineapple and pineapple stem, and may be useful in treating symptoms like nasal swelling and runny nose.  It’s used to thin mucus, and in doing so may help in preventing sinus infections.

* This information is presented for educational purposes only, and not as medical advice.  Consult the Infant Risk Center for information on the use of these herbs in pregnancy and lactation.  Image credit:  Butterbur, Wikimedia Commons

Free to Breastfeed: Voices of Black Mothers on our new podcast!

Free_To_Breastfeed Voices of Black MothersThe authors of the new book, Free to Breastfeed: Voices of Black Mothers are guests on our new podcast!

Authors Jeanine Logan and Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka talked about the importance of giving voice to African American moms’ stories, of claiming breastfeeding as part of the African American experience and tradition, and about going beyond the typical headlines about black women and breastfeeding.  They discussed treatment by healthcare providers, breastfeeding support organizations, and also shared which stories moved them.  We think you’ll really enjoy the conversation!

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

Depression at weaning?

Experiencing trauma after birth?Feeling sad, even depressed, during or after weaning?  You’re probably not alone.

Hormonal changes at weaning, coupled with the loss of the breastfeeding relationship, theoretically may heighten the risk of feelings of sadness, even leading to depression in some women.

While there is no research examining exactly this question, it is “certainly plausible that losing [these hormones] is going to make people feel physically bad, independent of any cognitive sadness they’re experiencing,” says Dr. Alison Stuebe, assistant professor of maternal and child health at the University of North Carolina.

Two key hormones of breastfeeding, prolactin and oxytocin, both affect mood.  Prolactin is a calming hormone, and oxytocin both calms and instills a feeling of closeness (hence its nickname “the love hormone”).  Theoretically, reductions in the levels of these hormones, especially when weaning is abrupt, may contribute to mood changes in some women.

One hypothesis, explained in this article, suggests that shared hormonal mechanisms may contribute to both breastfeeding problems and mood disorders. And some women, even those for whom breastfeeding has gone well and is ending in a satisfactory way, feel sadness at the loss of this relationship.

What can you do?  If possible, wean gradually to avoid a “crash” in your hormone levels.  If this isn’t possible or doesn’t work (even mothers who wean gradually may experience these feelings), check out this page of comfort measures for moms during weaning.  If possible, consider doing some skin-to-skin or extra snuggling time with your child – this kind of closeness can raise your prolactin and oxytocin levels even if you aren’t nursing.

And if you are concerned that your mood may be  depressive or otherwise troubling, be sure to seek help from a health care provider.

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

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