It takes time and precious, limited mama energy to produce milk. So do not waste it!!!
*First and foremost: if your baby doesn't finish a bottle of breast milk REFRIGERATE it and offer it at the next feeding. (Formula must be discarded one hour from baby drinking from bottle--not breast milk!) Breast milk not finished in the feed can be refrigerated for 4-6 hours and used at next feed.
If you have a surplus of breast milk, here are some alternatives:
Your milk could literally save a life.
*Immune Booster for your kids
Where else can you get stem cells and more white cells than blood??? Save your frozen milk for when your kids get sick or exposed to colds or illnesses. Mix it in a smoothie, add a little cocoa powder, call it 'coconut milk,' but your milk can help your kids at any age.
*First Aid Remedy
Antiseptic, antiviral,,,,literally liquid gold. It can be applied directly into the ears to fight infection, treat burns, rashes, eczema. (Many people also use it to treat pink eye, but I was unable to find evidence to support the efficacy.)
Add your milk to your baby or kid's bath. All over skin treatment for rashes or just moisturizing.
Great alternative to cow's milk, you can use your milk to enhance the nutritional value of pancakes, muffins, or other baked goods, macaroni and cheese......
Did I mention stem cells? For maximum benefit, steam your face for 5-10 mins. Mix milk with ground oats and apply to face until it dries. (about 20 mins.) But, even applying breast milk directly to your skin and letting it be absorbed for 10 mins is beneficial.
Why not use a little milk to make a keepsake?
*Pets and Plants
Your pets and plants can also benefit from left over milk. I'd rather see some living thing benefit from your efforts than ever see it go down the drain!
Keep in mind that properly collected breast milk doesn't go bad after "xx" amount of time in the freezer....But it's immune-enhancing and nutritional benefits can begin to deteriorate.
I'm always looking to help moms find purpose for surplus milk....If you have an idea, please share it with me!
I hate that "pumping & dumping" is a thing. (As in, making milk and literally dumping it in the trash.) It's often UNNECESSARILY recommended and that's what drives me crazy.
Women are usually told to get rid of their milk due to medications. The majority of medical professionals who are recommending this are getting their information from the PDR. (The Physician's Desk Reference states most medications aren't suitable for breastfeeding.) Pharmaceutical companies don't want the liability--it's just easier for everyone to agree it's not safe.
Before you dump your milk, do some research! Dr. Thomas Hale is the best authority on this subject. He meticulously categorizes drugs by whether the medication will enter breast milk, be able to be absorbed by the baby and in what ratio. For more specific and detailed information get Hale's book or app. Kellymom has a great searchable database. If you need help, contact your local La Leche League or an IBCLC.
Often, there are more compatible alternatives. If there isn't a better option, consider alternative and complimentary treatments. (i.e. if you have a cold, you can use a nettie pot, steam, take echinacea and vitamin c, etc.)
The other common cause for pumping and dumping is alcohol. Here, moderation and timing are everything. When dealing with a newborn, keeping it to one occasional drink is reasonable.
As your baby gets a little older, if you plan to have more than 1-2 drinks, try to feed or pump immediately before. Alcohol enters and EXITS your milk as it does your bloodstream. To read more about safely consuming alcohol and nursing, visit:
When in doubt, you can always pump and refrigerate your milk until you can find accurate information on your specific situation. Ideally, you want to be able to work with your health care provider to find treatments that support your breastfeeding situation and the health of everyone involved. Stay tuned for Part 2: Re-Purposing Breast Milk!
If you are bottle feeding regularly, it is really important to alternate sides! Right-handed people tend to hold the baby with their left hand/arm and the bottle with their dominant hand. (Vice versa for lefties.) The problem is, over time, one side of the baby's body is getting stimulation (eye, face, neck, arm, leg) while the other side is being held against your body. For exclusively bottle-fed babies, this can create issues.
Stimulating one side of the body 8-12 times a day can wreak havoc on their rapidly developing nervous system and vision. These complications can be especially problematic if your baby has torticollis, flat spots on the head, or facial asymmetry.
The goal is to evenly stimulate both sides of the body. Either switch your hold halfway through the feeding or alternate entire feeds. (So that first feeding you hold bottle with your right hand and baby's right side is against your body. Next feeding you hold bottle with your left hand and baby's left side is against your body.) By alternating sides you give your baby optimal visual and nervous system stimulation to support their growth and development.
Every parent wants their child to love the new baby. And while there are many little things you can do to smooth the transition (giving big brother/sister gifts, not holding the baby when they first meet, etc.), the key to it all is ATTENTION. Regardless of the age, kids need one-on-one attention and reassurance that they are still important.
Many kids, no matter how gently the initial introduction is made, feel threatened by a new little person who is suddenly in the spotlight. To better empathize: "Imagine your spouse announces that being married has been such a great experience, he has decided that it would be even better to bring in an additional wife." (Dads, just reverse it and imagine an additional husband on the scene.) Talk about a game-changer! Oh, and you won't mind sharing your things/toys/room, right?
The second most important thing to keep in mind when preparing your child/other children for a new baby is maintaining a consistent routine. Having those familiar touchstones in place, helps orient them during the upheaval. This bears some thought before the baby's arrival: i.e. if possible, get dad to take over the bedtime routine so it won't be as disruptive when mom can't.
If they are not in school or child care program, consider having dedicated care for the first month or so. Grandparents, babysitter--just someone who can give them undivided attention while you recover and care for your newborn. (Of course, this is always something a Postpartum Doula can help with!)
From my unique vantage point, I can attest that regardless of age and temperament, the siblings who transition best, were the ones given the most attention and one-on-one time.
For further reading, "Siblings Without Rivalry" is a tremendous resource. If you've already been down this road, comment below & share what helped your family most.
Sometimes I feel like there's a stigma around self care....Like moms are expected to suspend their needs indefinitely while tending to their babies and children. But how long can you hold your breath before you collapse?
Self Care is NOT selfish!
Tending to your own needs keeps you healthy--as in, not laid up with an infection, cough or cold. Taking care of yourself can prevent depression, anxiety, and dramatically reduce stress. It is also the key to being the best mom you can be: present, patient, and loving. (AND teaches your children by example how to take care of themselves.)
The biggest obstacle to self care, ironically, is staring you in the mirror....Or, that dark little voice in your head. Give yourself a turn to be taken care of. For some of us, this takes some practice. You might need baby steps. Of course, the amount of Self-Care you need and the amount you can do will depend largely on the age and number of your children.
1--Decide that you are worthy of care.
2--Make a plan. List all the ways you nourish your:
3--Schedule it. Write it in your calendar. Make it happen.
(Yes, you can. Yes, you can. Yes....you can. And you owe it to yourself and your kids!)
Some of my self care includes: my daily shower, prioritizing healthy foods of my choosing, regular Yoga Nidra Meditation, weekly Belly Dance Class, monthly book club gathering....But, what makes you happy/fulfilled might be getting a mani/pedi, lunch with a friend, walk in the woods, yoga, etc. What fills you up can be completely unique to you.
We absolutely have the power to re-define motherhood. To celebrate, focus and aspire to being well-rounded women, who make time to take care of themselves every day of the year--not just on Mother's Day.
Breast milk is dynamic--the amount of fat, antibodies and proteins adapts according to the baby's needs, mom's diet, and time of day. But Nighttime Breast Milk has a Super-Power: Melatonin! Melatonin is a hormone adults produce at night that makes you feel drowsy. As it turns out, breastmilk produced at night contains melatonin--making baby more drowsy and reducing colic. (Melatonin also relaxes the smooth muscles of the gastrointestinal tract, reducing colic.) Daytime milk has no detectable level of melatonin.
This bit of information could be critical for moms who are pumping--labeling and offering nighttime milk at night could help your baby sleep better! Meanwhile, this helps explain how breastfed babies sleep better than their formula fed peers. Incredible how moms' milk can help regulate a baby's circadian rhythm.
To read more about the studies: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8370707
Somewhere within all new moms lies a secret fear...What if you can't really do this? Or can't do it like your sister, friend, neighbor, or what's-her-name on Facebook--the one with exclusively organic homemade food & insanely clean home. Or, perhaps worst of all, can't do it the way you always imagined and expected you would?
When it comes to mothering, there will always be someone who you think is doing it better than you. Often this is just a projection of insecurity. Just because her Instagram shows a perfectly clean corner of her house doesn't mean every aspect of her mothering is perfect. I've worked intimately with over 100 moms in the last 13 years, and what I can tell you is MOTHERING IS HARD. EVERY MOM HAS HER STRUGGLES, QUESTIONS HER CHOICES, AND FEELS INADEQUATE AT TIMES. What varies is the specific issue (breastfeeding, working/SAHM, sleeping. etc.) and how upfront she is about it. Some moms are really good at putting their best foot forward, but that doesn't mean they aren't struggling.
Two keys to surviving: Connect with moms you click with and let you share your struggles....It's vital to have real support whether you find it in moms' support group, your church, your friends, or family. Secondly, accept that there is no perfection--you just have to do your best with what you've got.
Labor Doulas help you during the labor and birthing process. Postpartum Doulas help you after. One is not more important than the other. Which may be more helpful depends on the individual circumstances and people involved. Utilizing both may offer the greatest benefit.
Labor Doulas usually begin meeting with expecting parents months before the birth. They'll establish a relationship and build a birth plan. Once labor begins, the Labor Doula provides continuous support--physical, emotional and informational. She'll help you recognize the various stages of labor, keep you calm, show you positions and techniques to ease your pain, and help you immediately after the birth. Most Labor Doulas do a Postpartum Visit as well, to recap the birth, see how you're adjusting and often give Birth Stories or pictures.
Postpartum Doulas often meet with expecting parents before the birth. (Or, after the birth, when parents are suddenly overwhelmed!) Postpartum Doulas provide physical, emotional and informational support after the birth. They'll help you recognize normal stages of Postpartum Recovery, Newborn Development and Breastfeeding. Postpartum Doulas show you techniques to keep you comfortable and speed healing while you are recovering. They'll guide you in newborn care (bathing, feeding, soothing, etc.) if you're a new mom, or care for your other children if you're not a new mom. They'll help with laundry, dishes and food preparation so you can rest.
Postpartum is not as clearly defined as Labor....Most women will not be in labor for more than 24 hours. Postpartum Recovery is at least 6 weeks, but Postpartum Adjustment can take 3-4 months or more--especially when adequate support is lacking. It's important to have an advocate during your journey. Each Doula has their unique place in a complete birth and recovery plan.
There's an unsettling reality to Postpartum here....Moms who aren't clinically depressed, but are barely functioning. I call them the "walking wounded" and I see them everywhere. Often they're blaming themselves for not being able to do it all alone...when it is absolutely our culture that is to blame.
To see significant change, these 4 keys need to be addressed:
Postpartum recovery is as serious as surgical recovery....Often trickier because women are waking frequently to care for their babies, and possibly other children, too. Finally, America could join the rest of the world in understanding that women need time to rest and recuperate after birth. Naturally, they may be more sensitive and people should be considerate in their appoach (NOT critical!).
Connection with positive, helpful groups and access to evidence-based information--both in-person and online.
3--Six Weeks of Meals, Household Help, and Child Care:
Seriously. I do not care if it's provided by health insurance, co-operatives, relatives, or some sort of community Postpartum Doula Program....As long as it's considerate to the individual family's needs, I'll take it! At minimum, we need 3 weeks of complete reprieve and 2-3 weeks of partial help.
4--Paid Maternity & Paternity Leave For All.
Honestly, this wouldn't fix everything, but how much easier would your experience have been with these 4 changes? This is what I'm hoping and working for, because the best thing we can do for babies is nurture their moms. <3
Exhaustion amplifies every postpartum complication. If you can't catch up on sleep during the day, these 3 keys will help.
First and foremost: stop trying to do it all. Seriously, delegate, delegate, delegate! Your energy is too precious to waste on housework or anything anyone else can do for you. Do whatever you have to do to rest and recover.
Yoga Nidra is a form of meditation that could literally change your world. It's four times as restorative as sleep. (So, spending 30 mins doing this meditation, is like 120 mins of sleep!) Check out my favorite here: BoldTranquility
FLOAT Did you know that getting into a float tank (super bouyant salt water) for an hour is as restorative as 4 hours of sleep? Not to mention relieving stress and anxiety! We are so lucky to have the option right here in Asbury Park at TaoMassage.
Most new mamas are so concerned with taking care of their baby, that they fail to meet their own most basic needs. Your baby gets the best care if you are healthy and strong.
Postpartum Doula, Breastfeeding Counselor, Mother of Three.