Archives for August 2016

A few words from Temperance during Black Breastfeeding Week

We’re celebrating Black Breastfeeding Week in big ways! We’re donating bras to breastfeeding support groups nationwide to promote breastfeeding as the healthiest first-food choice for babies. We hope that raising awareness for breastfeeding will help normalize breastfeeding and improve breastfeeding rates in Black communities.

Our friends at Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE) did a Loving Moments photo shoot with attendees at their recent Breastfeeding Summit. Temperance was one of the lovely models, who is featured in our Seamless Padded Nursing Bra. She’s supporting breastfeeding for all the right reasons. Here’s what she has to say:

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1) Why are you passionate about the breastfeeding cause?

Breastfeeding is a proven superior source of nutritional care. The benefits of breast milk for infants who are born healthy and those who may not have been born as strong are so undeniable that medial professionals can no longer doubt the superior benefits of it.

2) What is your most cherished breastfeeding moment?

Speaking to a mother about how she breastfed all of her children and how she did not have to go through the times of having sick babies, ear infections, etc and how they came to be valedictorians’ of their classes and their continued successes. Of course not all of their accomplishments were due to breastfeeding alone, BUT that mother realized that she started all her kids off with the best possible source of life, giving nutritional care which was her breast milk. She was so passionate when she was speaking because she was trying to explain to her own daughter, who is now a mother, why breast milk would be better than any formula she gave her baby.

3) What do you hope for the future of breastfeeding among African American communities?

That there is a greater understanding of breastfeeding both medically, emotionally and even physically for the mother. ..To remove the notion that it is “dirty” and “unnatural” and African American families can be more accepting and welcoming of its members who choose to breastfeed

A few words from Chelesa during Black Breastfeeding Week

We’re thrilled to celebrate Black Breastfeeding Week! This joyous event sheds light on the happiness, bonding, nurturing and nourishment that occurs during breastfeeding. The celebration also helps raise awareness for breastfeeding as the healthiest choice for babies. We couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this vital educational and jubilant event!

Our friends at Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE) held a Breastfeeding Summit recently and engaged several attendees in a Loving Moments photo shoot.  One of the beautiful models was Chelesa, featured here in our Loving Moments Seamless Crossover Nursing Bra. She’s sharing inspiration with all of us during Black Breastfeeding Week.

A few words from Chelesa during Black Breastfeeding Week

1) Why are you passionate about the breastfeeding cause?

I am passionate about breastfeeding because I have seen the amazing benefits of health, bonding, and higher IQ with my own children. I also love helping other mothers achieve their breastfeeding goals and seeing the moment both mother and baby find their breastfeeding groove.

2) What is your most cherished breastfeeding moment?

The first time my baby latched on in the delivery room after an emergency c-section. I felt good to be able to feed my baby even though my birth experience did not go as planned.

3) What do you hope for the future of breastfeeding among African American communities?

I hope that we understand the importance of breastfeeding not only for the benefits for the baby, but the impact it has on our health and the impact it has in our communities.

5 Ways to Encourage a Pregnant Friend to Breastfeed

Once you’ve experienced the joy of breastfeeding and know its incredible benefits, you may find yourself becoming a cheerleader for the cause, especially with your friends.  After all, you love your friends and want them and their babies to have a wonderful breastfeeding journey and reap the benefits of breastfeeding too.  As an experienced mom you can be a huge asset to your friends who are expecting.  Today we’re sharing five ways to encourage a pregnant friend to breastfeed.

5 ways to encourage a pregnant friend to breastfeed1 – Talk to Your Friend about Breastfeeding

To you breastfeeding may feel like second nature, but to your friend it may be a very foreign concept, especially if she was not breastfed or doesn’t have a breastfeeding role model in her life.  Whether you are currently breastfeeding or have already weaned your baby, talk to your pregnant friend about your breastfeeding experience.  Those who have not yet had the pleasure of breastfeeding might have misconceptions or focus on the negative aspects of breastfeeding they may have heard.  Learning about your experience can ease some of your friend’s fears and help her grasp how fantastic breastfeeding can be.  It’s OK to share the challenges you may have had too.  Sugarcoating your struggles may only make your friend feel she is alone if she runs into problems.  Rather, be realistic about your journey and remind your friend that most wonderful experiences in life come with a few hurdles along the way.  In your chat, let your friend know she can always come to you for advice if she needs it.

2 – Buy Your Friend a Breastfeeding Book

A breastfeeding book is a fabulous baby shower gift.  (Throw in a nursing bra and it’s twice as nice!)  Breastfeeding books are great resources to prepare expectant moms for breastfeeding and she can refer back to it once her baby arrives and she’s ready to put all the information into action.  Most breastfeeding books share the vast benefits of breastfeeding, review breastfeeding positions, explain proper latch and address many common issues breastfeeding mothers face.

3 – Be a Breastfeeding Role Model

Talking and reading about breastfeeding are great, but watching breastfeeding in-person is even better.  Invite your friend to spend time with you and your baby so she can witness breastfeeding firsthand.  Don’t think of it as a lesson or demonstration, but more of a natural part of your day that she’s sharing with you.  If she has questions, you can answer them but you don’t have to expound everything you know about breastfeeding as that may be overwhelming for her.  Seeing breastfeeding as a normal part of infant care can be very helpful as your friend prepares herself for motherhood.

4 – Share Your Breastfeeding Supplies

When you are done with them, pass along your breastfeeding supplies to a pregnant friend.  Nursing bras or nursing camis that are still in good shape, a nursing pillow, extra breast milk storage bags and an unused tube of lanolin could all come in handy for your friend.  (Note, breast pumps should not be shared for sanitation reasons.)

5 – Help Her Make a Plan

Many moms don’t realize that breastfeeding should happen as soon as possible after birth.  Giving birth is a big deal, and for some the labor and delivery process is traumatic. Not having a clear game plan prior to childbirth coupled with an unsupportive team of doctors and nurses can derail a new mom’s notion of breastfeeding.  By helping your pregnant friend make a plan, you can increase her chances of successfully breastfeeding.  Her plan should include: bringing nursing bras or nursing camis to the hospital since she’ll need them right away; telling her nurses upon arrival and all nurses that see her throughout her stay at the hospital that her intention is to breastfeed; and requesting visits from the on-staff hospital lactation consultants.

You can be a breastfeeding advocate and encourage a pregnant friend to breastfeed with these 5 tips.  Spread the love, spread the breastfeeding!

Lyssa’s story of Giving Her All

Lyssa's story of Giving Her All“I started my breastfeeding journey with the goal of making it to a year. During the first month I had a hard time due to having to deal with Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex. But once we got past that things leveled out. Once I made it to a year I was very happy, then I thought, “Why not keep going?”

Then two years came around. Kept going. Then three years came around. I decided to stop breastfeeding at three years and the next thing I know we were 5 months away from her fourth birthday. So we decided to go to age four.

Last night as we laid down to nurse after suckling for a minute or so my daughter got a sad face and said there was no milk. So I told her to try the other one. She suckled at the other breast for a minute then again looked at me and said there was no milk. She got sad and turned into her pillow.  After a few minutes she decided she wanted call everyone and tell them.

I feel like we have come to the end of our journey and what a journey it was. I have proven to myself over and over that I can do this. And since this is my last child I was happy to be able to give her my all.”

Lyssa, Lockhart, TX WIC

Observations from World Breastfeeding Week

observations from world breastfeeding weekWorld Breastfeeding Week may be over but National Breastfeeding Month continues throughout August with many opportunities to raise awareness for breastfeeding, support mothers in their breastfeeding efforts and celebrate breastfeeding as the very best nutritional choice for babies.  In fact, we will be celebrating Black Breastfeeding Week August 25-31 as a culmination of our National Breastfeeding Month festivities.

As we look back at World Breastfeeding Week, we can’t help but cheer for the victories for breastfeeding in the U.S. and take note of the work that still needs to be done.  Many other countries are still fighting for some of the issues the U.S. has worked hard to overcome. Plus nations around the world had significant triumphs this World Breastfeeding Week that we want to share. Today we’re giving an overview of observations from World Breastfeeding Week:

U.S. Breastfeeding Victories

Because of the progress made in the U.S., evidence-based information has changed many mothers’ perspective on the best way to nourish their babies. Study after study proves the benefits of breastfeeding for babies and mothers. From science to celebrities, more and more education and role models are making headlines in support of breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding in public was once taboo but is now more accepted than ever and protected by law. While some social stigma still exists, moms are prioritizing their babies’ health over a few awkward glances or snarky comments.

Mothers who cannot breastfeed are also seeking help from other moms in the form of donor milk.

Employers are making more effort to accommodate breastfeeding moms in the workplace, especially because statistics show breastfeeding makes families healthier leading to less missed workdays and morale is higher when moms have the opportunity to meet their breastfeeding goals and maintain their careers.

All of these are incredible victories for the U.S.

U.S. Breastfeeding Opportunities

Despite the aforementioned accomplishments, there are still barriers to success in the U.S. There is a socio-economic, cultural and racial divide when it comes to breastfeeding as many lower-income and minority communities lack the support they need to successfully breastfeed.  And they may be the very ones who would benefit from breastfeeding the most.

Many moms are misinformed about breastfeeding from the start when hospital staff do not promote breastfeeding but rather offer simpler alternatives as a quick fix.

Plus, until breastfeeding rates are close to 100%, there will always be work to do for this important health cause.

These are all opportunities for improvement in the U.S.

A Global Breastfeeding Perspective

observations from world breastfeeding weekIn other countries the focus of World Breastfeeding Week is overcoming some of the same challenges as the U.S., but the majority are still working to rise to the level of societal acceptance that most Americans have. Breastfeeding in public is one of the biggest issues at the global level. Case in point: according to The Times of India, breastfeeding in public “is a worry and a fear in India.” In Colombia, mothers joined together for a public breastfeeding event to stand up for the cause.

In China, breastfeeding rates are rising but still lower than many countries. A recent controversial photo of mothers breastfeeding on the subway sparked a heated online discussion of public breastfeeding intolerance and demonstrated the sentiments of many Chinese citizens. However, perhaps it was all for a good cause because during World Breastfeeding Week the Chinese government “pledged to set up more nursing rooms in public spaces and encouraged companies to follow suit,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Another experience in Poland provoked governmental involvement too. A woman who was asked to nurse her baby in a bathroom at a restaurant was outraged and went public with her story. The health minster then made this statement: “Breastfeeding is not only a natural act, but an act which actually deserves the widest support possible. Stigmatizing women for breastfeeding in public is not acceptable.”  The instigating incident was unfortunate but as a result it brought national attention to the issue in Poland.

At the local level, similar to the U.S., certain areas have lower breastfeeding rates, perhaps based on lack of support. Communities are getting creative to try to improve conditions. For example, per the website BelfastLive, Belfast has the lowest breastfeeding-from-birth rate among England, Scotland and Wales and their numbers significantly drop by six weeks and six months. As a solution, 400 businesses, facilities and attractions signed on to an initiative to support breastfeeding at their locations, complete with signage and staff training.

Another stride in support of breastfeeding was made in Thailand this World Breastfeeding Week.  The Ministry of Health will take a bill to the National Legislative Assembly that forbids advertising or marketing formula or other food products to infants and young children including offering coupons and free samples. It also binds healthcare professionals to promote breastfeeding as the healthiest option for babies. This is a major step forward for breastfeeding in Thailand.

Although breastfeeding is a 24/7, 365 days of the year issue, World Breastfeeding Week magnifies the cause on the global stage. Each country faces challenges and World Breastfeeding Week is a great opportunity to focus on these issues in order to make improvements. The U.S. has come so far, yet there is still much work to do to ensure every baby is given the gift of health through breastfeeding.

The Lifesaving Gift of Breastfeeding

The Lifesaving Gift of Breastfeeding“I was 23 years old and terrified the first time I walked into WIC. My birth control had failed and I found myself thrown into a foreign world. Besides the typical fears first time moms have – for their unborn babies, impending labor and of course the constant thought that my body is ruined – I had the added fear of how does a poor single woman from Lorain provide for another human being?! I struggled to care for myself alone. And so great was my fear that I couldn’t support a child that I spent my entire first trimester researching adoption.

As I searched for ways to provide for a family, I found myself at WIC. I expected to get some stamps or coupons to help with food but I had no idea of the wealth of support and information they would offer.

As a child I was breastfed and so I planned to breastfeed. But only because that was what my mom did. At WIC they taught me the hundreds of benefits of breastfeeding. The more I learned, the more excited and passionate I became about breastfeeding. And of course one HUGE perk is it’s free (saving moms $2,000-4,000 a year)! WIC also provided amazing breastfeeding tools that I use daily (to this day!) such as a breastfeeding cover and pump which I would have struggled to afford and probably would have not purchased on my own.

As I learned more I decided to “term” breastfeed my daughter (some people call it extended breastfeeding). I read of all the benefits breastfeeding can offer to toddlers and decided to let my daughter self wean when she is ready. When my daughter was 2 I had my second child. She breastfed throughout my pregnancy and we are now tandem nursing. My son (8lb 6oz at birth) is 8 weeks and over 12 pounds and my daughter is a thriving, happy, healthy little girl.

I hear a lot of people say how hard breastfeeding was when they first started. And I have certainly had my struggles throughout my two years of breastfeeding. But I can honestly say that I’ve never once thought of quitting because of the arsenal of information and support I’m armed with. I know that this is something fully worth doing and that I absolutely can do. Thank you WIC for the lifesaving gift of breastfeeding (and everything else). And thank you to all those who support WIC so that they can continue to nourish families in our community.”

Hannah, Lorain County, OH WIC

Baby Exercise: Why it’s Important and 10 Baby Exercise Ideas

Physical activity is critical for healthy bodies, but did you know it’s even important for babies?  Yup, your baby needs 60 minutes of exercise a day just like you and your older children.  Exercise with a baby should be fun and playful.  Today we’re exploring why baby exercise is important and 10 ideas for exercising your baby.

The Importance of Baby Exercise

Healthy behaviors are learned from a very young age.  This is true in both a biological and psychological perspective.  In the early years of life children’s brains make a connection with their muscles.  If muscles are not stimulated during infancy and toddlerhood, the link between the brain and muscles may be weak.  Activating this synergy early will make physical activity more natural and fun for your child well into adulthood.

Exercise is also a value that families must help their children prioritize for sustained health.  Parents can be good role models for healthy behaviors including working out or incorporating sports and active play into the family’s lifestyle.  And it all begins by helping your baby exercise as an infant.  That means less time spent in bouncy chairs, baby swings and car carriers, and more time down on the floor and engaging in movement-based play.

Baby Exercise: Why it’s Important and 10 Baby Exercise Ideas10 Ideas for Baby Exercise:

  • Tummy Time: You probably know how challenging yoga can be for you; tummy time is an equivalent workout for your baby.  Tummy time can begin as soon as your baby comes home from the hospital and should be done in short increments progressively adding up to an hour a day.  This will help strengthen your baby’s core, back and neck muscles for every gross motor skill he will eventually master.
  • Back Play: Laying on your back may feel like relaxing, but it’s exercise for your baby.  The supine position is how your baby will experience the world for the first few months of life.  Within the first two or three months he’ll get a feel for moving his arms and legs, which begin as reflexes and evolve into smoother, more controlled, intentional movements.  Your baby needs the space and freedom to develop these movements.
  • Bicycle: While your baby is on his back, move his legs in a bicycle motion both forwards and backwards.  Make a game out of it to elicit smiles too.
  • Grasping: Using a playmat with objects dangling over your baby’s head is a terrific way to encourage reaching and grasping. As your baby advances in age, he will be intrigued by colorful and noisy toys and he will begin to want to play with them.  You’ll notice his interest, curiosity and delight as he manipulates toys independently.
  • Arm Motions: Like the bicycle for legs, move your baby’s arms in wide circles, up-and-down and across the body to stretch the muscles of the arms, chest and back.
  • Raise-Ups: Holding your baby’s hands and encouraging him to grasp your fingers, slowly raise your baby up to a sitting or standing position.  He will have to use his strength to keep his head aligned and bear weight on his lower body.
  • Standing: Help your baby get into a standing position for brief moments.  You can make fun games out of it by helping your baby dance to music, playing peek-a-boo or putting your baby in front of a mirror to watch himself stand.  He will increasingly bear weight on his feet as he gets older.
  • Overhead Fly: Place your baby on your shins while you roll backwards.  Your baby essentially will be doing tummy time on your legs.  The instability of the surface will be more challenging though.  Plus he gets to look down at his most favorite person while doing it!
  • Exercise Ball: Not just for your workouts, an exercise ball can be useful for baby exercise too.  Place your baby on the ball for tummy time or sit him upright holding his hips and move the ball so he has to use the core to stay balanced.
  • Rolling: Baby’s usually roll between three and five months old.  Help your baby roll by rocking him back and forth and gently rolling him from tummy to back and back to tummy.

Instill a love for movement and physical activity with these baby exercise ideas for healthy habits in the future.

Gemma’s Story: Battling Lupus, Conceiving & Breastfeeding Successfully

Gemma's Story: Battling Lupus, Conceiving & Breastfeeding Successfully“One year after my son was born, 2013, I was diagnosed with Lupus Nephritis stage 4. I was told that I would never be able to have another baby. I was on 18 pills a day. Through medication, exercise and diet change (low sodium and no processed foods), I went into remission and convinced the doctors to switch my meds and allow us to try for a baby.

One year later we had the green light and 2 months later I was pregnant with Emily.

I was told that I probably wouldn’t be able to breastfeed due to supply issues and the constant fatigue from lupus. Lupus forced me to wean my son cold turkey three days shy of his first year birthday. I would not let this control my life or my daughters.

Gemma's Story: Battling Lupus, Conceiving & Breastfeeding SuccessfullyShe was born healthy on her due date and we have breastfed from day 1 with zero supplementing. She fought me on bottles when I went back to work but in the end she would take 1 bottle of pumped milk a day at daycare. I work as an instructor full time at Springfield College teaching Biology to freshman. I was able to nurse her on my breaks at the daycare.

She is now 15 months on Friday and I can hardly believe that this journey is still going strong. She still nurses 4-5 times throughout the day and what’s amazing is that she is keeping me in remission. The hormones that are associated with breastfeeding keep my lupus quiet. I don’t know when this journey will end but I am sure glad to be apart of it.”

Gemma, Manchester/Bolton, CT, La Leche League

 

8 Reasons to Stop Comparing your Baby

Comparing your baby to others may feel like human nature when you become a mom.  After all, developmental milestones come with a timeline and when your baby doesn’t hit the mark right on time, you may feel worried and disappointed.  However, before you stress out about keeping up with the Jones’ baby, there are so many reasons to stop comparing your baby.  We’re sharing eight of them today.

1 – All Babies are Different

You’ve heard this time and time again, and there is a good reason why.  It’s true!  Your baby’s abilities are just as unique as the way she looks yet somehow it is easier to accept the expression of eye-color genes than those that determine when your baby will hit a particular milestone.

2 – Reaching Milestones Sooner has Little Effect on the Future

If you believe that early walkers are better athletes or early talkers become famous authors, think again.  This misconception is not true for the most part.  As long as your baby learns skills steadily within a normal range according to your pediatrician, her potential will not be limited by when she checked off the developmental milestone boxes in her first year.

8 Reasons to Stop Comparing your Baby3 – Your Baby May be Focused Elsewhere

Babies tend to focus on one new skill at a time.  If your baby is learning to roll or grasp objects, she may not babble as much.  Or if your baby is working on understanding your words, she may pause on learning to crawl.  Then all of the sudden, many new skills emerge and your comparisons (and worries) were for nothing.

4 – You’re Missing what is Special about your Baby

When you spend your time comparing your baby to others or fretting over the milestones chart, you’re going to miss out on what is special about your baby.  Learning to celebrate your child for who she is will be an important parenting lesson for you.

5 – Restricts Bonding with your Baby

Recognizing and championing your baby’s unique character will help you form a lifelong bond.  When you are hyper critical, it can get in the way of feeling close to your baby.  While you may think you’re hiding your feelings, your baby might pick up on your subtle neuroses.

6 – You Don’t Live with other Babies so your Comparisons are Unfounded Anyways

What you see of other babies is probably not how they act all the time.  Some babies are very calm in public but cranky at home.  Some babies feel uninhibited to show off their talents anywhere while others are shy outside the comfort of their own play space.  It’s silly to compare without even having all the facts, which would be impossible anyways so just don’t do it!

7 – Sets the Stage for Stress and Low Self Esteem

Comparing your 3-month old now could turn into 18 years of comparing your child in the future.  Surely your child will pick up on it at some point, which can damage her psychologically through stress and lower her self esteem.  Instead, boost your baby’s self esteem by being proud of who she really is.

8 – Your Baby’s Temperament and Skills aren’t a Reflection of You, but Comparing Is

As a parent your job is to provide opportunity for success throughout your child’s youth.  If you are meeting your baby’s basic and developmental needs, her developmental patterns, sleep style and behavior are mostly out of your control.  Comparing your baby and blaming her or yourself is fruitless and a poor reflection of you.  You will come across as caddy, self-centered and unkind rather than the loving parent you are trying to be.

We hope you take these reasons to stop comparing your baby to heart so you can celebrate all that is special about your precious child.

Breastfeeding Success Story: Triumph in the End!

Breastfeeding Success Story: Triumph in the End!“I wanted to share my story. My daughter is almost 5 months old. My water broke 4 weeks early, (but) when I went to the hospital I was only 1 cm dilated. Long story short by 30 hours of labor, my doctor said I needed to have an emergency c-section because I started to get a fever.

My daughter Adeline was born weighing 7 pounds 9 ounces which is a great size for a baby being born early. When she was born she had low blood sugar and jaundice. She was in the NICU for a week. They fed her bottle of formula which was far from what I wanted. But everyday until she got out of the hospital every three hours I would go and try breastfeeding her.

Breastfeeding Success Story: Triumph in the End!It took 5 days for my milk to finally come in. She had a good latch but became frustrated because the milk didn’t come fast like the bottle. So I would try feeding her then pump so she could get my milk instead of the formula. She stopped drinking formula after a week. And I kept trying to feed her but she only wanted the bottle. So I exclusively pumped until she was almost 2 months. About then I finally got her to feed off of me I was so excited!!! And from that point we have been exclusively breastfeeding!!

It was so hard at the beginning, but I am so glad I stuck with it!!”

Jenn, Jacksonville, FL La Leche League