Here at Nurturing Expressions, we see folks in all stages of their feeding journeys…from pregnancy through weaning and there’s a few questions we frequently hear from just about every new or expecting parent. Here’s some of our best answers to new parent FAQs!
HOW DO I GET READY TO BREASTFEED? Go talk to a nursing mom! Join us in Poulsbo on Thursdays at Breastfeeding Support Group (there’s no charge during pregnancy…and even when you have baby, it’s only $10). Our current society has made breastfeeding such a covert activity that most people have never seen a baby actually latch and nurse. We picture a serene icon of motherhood with a baby peacefully laying across a chest but in real life there are usually limbs flailing, baby noises, a little trepidation at first and almost always a pretty steep learning curve. It helps to see it in person so you know you aren’t alone. Once you come to group and see moms working with real-live babies (where do you put your hand, what arm to use, which pillow do people like, etc) it all starts to make more sense in the context of your own real baby.
WHAT DO I NEED BEFORE BABY COMES: In general, you really just need your breasts and a lot of patience. We do have a couple suggestions to make yourself more comfortable, because we all have better success in reaching our own goals if we feel supported and at ease. • Comfy, stretchy nursing bra with NO underwires. Cotton Candy by Cake Maternity and Bravado Silk Seamless are staff and customer favorites for the first few months postpartum. They are both stretchy to accommodate your rapidly changing breasts, no underwires to block milk flow, and come in a wide range of sizes…the Silk Seamless fit up to a 44G! There is a stretchy bra for every body! We recommend starting with at least 2, so you always have a clean backup. Babies can get very messy. • A pair of pretty pajamas that you can easily nurse in. Finding some nice pajamas and a lovely robe goes a long ways towards helping you feel more human in those first weeks. Cake Maternity makes great options that are functional, comfortable and will make you feel like a million bucks. • Nip Slip by New Grit Soap Co. (or another really great, food grade nipple cream that doesn’t need to be wiped off when baby eats) and Diaper Balm by Motherlove. Lanolin can be really sticky and sometimes itchy if you have a wool sensitivity, so plant-based healing balms tend to be more universally helpful. The Motherlove Diaper Balm is basically magic…it’s cloth-diaper safe and can knock out even the toughest yeast rash, this should be a mandatory new parent supply! • The Luna Lullabye Bosom Buddy pillow is light-years beyond any other nursing pillow. It’s moldable, has just the right amount of stuffing, doesn’t go flat with heavy use, and comes in lots of cute prints! Luckily, we make sure we stock Nurturing Expressions with all our favorite “must-haves” so we have all of these and more at the shop!
HOW DO I GET A BREAST PUMP? WHEN SHOULD I DO IT? WHICH ONE SHOULD I PICK? Our staff at Nurturing Expressions in Poulsbo and West Seattle are always happy to call your insurance company and check your insurance benefit for you! You can call 206-763-2733 option 1 or 2 to speak with someone during business hours (Monday – Saturday 10am – 6pm) or email firstname.lastname@example.org and someone will get back to you as quickly as possible. Most private insurances will cover a new breast pump with each pregnancy, but specific coverage does vary. If your insurance will cover one before baby comes, it is nice to get it taken care of before baby comes so that it is one less thing to worry about when you have a fresh baby at home. The entire concept of Nurturing Expressions was born out of Tracy’s dedication to making quality lactation care accessible to all families, so we only provide pumps that we feel confident will support families in meeting their breastfeeding goals. We only carry pumps that we have found to be highly effective and consistent in performance. Of course, all bodies react differently to pumps, and each individual experience will vary but we make sure to provide only ones that most people respond well to. We currently carry and endorse Medela, Spectra and Ardo. Tracy is always watching the latest innovations in breast pumps and personally vetting them before bringing them to the store. We look forward to providing you with the best breast pump for your journey.
WHEN SHOULD I START PUMPING? HOW DO I PREPARE TO GO BACK TO WORK? If your goal is to primarily feed at breast/chest, the most important thing is to always put baby to breast/chest as frequently as possible. Establishing supply is all about your body getting to know baby and regulating to their needs. Ideally, you will be able to spend the first 4-6 weeks with baby, spending lots of time skin-to-skin and getting to know baby’s feeding cues and nursing on demand. If baby is having weight gain issues, feeding troubles or other extenuating circumstances in the first 4 weeks, we definitely recommend working with an IBCLC to create a game plan to increase supply, milk transfer and hopefully fix the underlying problems causing the challenge. If you are wanting to pump for a backup stash or to go back to work, we recommend waiting until baby is at least 4 weeks old, or 30 days before you have to go back to work. If you’ll be returning to work, it’s important to know that it is VERY NORMAL for your output to drop significantly that first week. Our bodies are driven by a combination of hormones, stimulation and routine; going back to work can disrupt every single part of that delicate balance. We recommend building up a freezer stash so that you can get through the first couple tough days without stressing out about making enough milk. Stress can cause milk output to decrease, which causes more stress and can be a self-perpetuating cycle. About a month before returning to work, pick a time in the morning (when milk supply is typically highest) to start incorporating a pumping session after baby nurses. Ideally this will coordinate with a time that you will be pumping at work so your body will recognize this as normal when you return to work. If you only get a few drops the first couple times, don’t worry! This is why we start early, so your body can get to know the pump before there is any pressure to produce significant output. When you start incorporating that morning pumping session into your routine, it can be helpful to use a hands-free pumping bra so you can do breast compressions while pumping, which can encourage better milk flow. If you are having great output without compressions, the hands-free pumping bra can allow you to use your hands for other important tasks…like eating warm food, drinking hot coffee, or taking some “me” time to read a book or browse the internet. As you start pumping for a stash, best practice is to freeze that milk as quickly as possible if you won’t be turning around and feeding it in the next few days. As the milk sits in the fridge, the enzymes in it start to break down the nutrients. No matter what, breast milk is still an amazing, perfect food substance made just for your baby, but freezing quickly helps maintain maximum freshness and nutrition. Freezer storage bags made for breast milk are the best option for safe storage. We have a variety of brands and styles available at Nurturing Expressions, and some insurances even have coverage for bags! A lot of our families are really loving the Kiinde Twist system lately, it really cannot be beat for convenience. The kit comes with an adapter that can be used with basically any pump, so you pump directly into the bags for easy freezing. That same bag can be popped into the bottle casing and nipple and used to feed baby. It is a great time saver, and the slow flow nipple is great for breastfed babies. Don’t waste your precious time washing bottles!
I NEED MORE HELP! WHAT DO I DO? Come to group! We meet every Wednesday in our West Seattle store and every Thursday in our Poulsbo location. Meetings are from 10am – 11:30am, and are only $10, no appointment necessary. There is no question too small, no challenge too large. Tracy Corey, RN, IBCLC runs group just like a private consultation, with the added benefit of peer support. Come to the store! We always have staff on-hand for expert bra fittings as well as knowledgeable discussion about breastfeeding, pumps, supplies, and supplements. Congratulations on this wonderful new chapter of your life! We can’t wait to meet you! Please feel free to email, call or come in any time!
Would you like to help your child sleep better at night? How you respond to those middle of the night wake-ups will determine how quickly your family will achieve this goal. As I tell my clients, consistency is the key to success, and this is true for bed-sharing families and those whose children sleep in a separate bed or room.
Consider a couple scenarios:
Picture a nine month old baby. It’s time for bed. The baby is nursing in a warm bed or being fed a bottle while rocking gently in a loving adult’s arms. Before long, this child falls into a blissful sleep with nipple in mouth. A couple hours later as the infant transitions between sleep cycles, he fully awakens when he realizes the adult and nipple have disappeared. He believes he needs to suck on something and to be held in order to fall back to sleep. He cries until he’s picked and fed once again. This scenario is repeated many more times throughout the night causing interrupted sleep for both baby and parents.
Now imagine a toddler with an awesome big girl bed she loves. When it’s time to sleep, she lies down with a parent and a few minutes (or hours) later they both fall asleep. Sometimes when she wakes up in the middle of the night that grown up is still with her. Other times she’s alone and wanders into her parents’ room to investigate. She may be invited into their bed or she may be escorted back to her room to sleep alone. If the latter, she’ll cry in protest until someone either lies down with her or brings her into their room. On any given night, she doesn’t know what to expect, and so the toddler continues to wake up wondering what that night’s response will be.
There is nothing wrong with either of these scenarios as long as everyone is quickly falling back to sleep after the middle of the night wake-up. However, if the child seems sleepy and/or temperamental during the day, or you or your partner are not getting the sleep you require, a change may be needed.
Kids of all ages thrive on structure and predictability. When a parent’s response is unpredictable, it can create uncertainty and insecurity in a child. Boundaries help kids understand limits. If boundaries are unclear, kids will continue to test and negotiate to see if they can get the response they want. That can involve lots of crying on the part of the child, and can also include resentment and frustration between parents or between parent and child. When we are talking about sleep, this unpredictability in response is often the cause of frequent night waking. If you want to stop or reduce night waking, you need to decide what your boundaries are and consistently hold those boundaries. Remarkably, when boundaries are compassionately yet firmly set, a child that you thought “just has to be held to sleep” will soon begin falling asleep on his/her own and will begin sleeping longer stretches at night.
If you’d like to learn more about how to improve your child’s sleep, stop by my booth or attend my presentation “Five Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Better Tonight”. I look forward to meeting you.
Sleep Coach & Postpartum Doula
A guest post by Joella Pettigrew, DC, LM of JP Chiropractic