Monthly Archives: May 2010

10 things people don’t tell you about breastfeeding

 If you like this post on breastfeeding tips and would like to share it with other new moms and moms-to-be, please provide this link to them:

Breastfeeding for all babies

1) It’s not that simple, but it’s also not that complicated
Alright, we’re mammals, so you’d think breastfeeding is in our genes, but when the time comes, it doesn’t appear that obvious. Can it hurt? Yes, if you don’t do it right, and mostly, if your baby doesn’t do it right. You didn’t get the lactation instruction manual and your baby didn’t either! So see it as the first learning experience you’ll share together. Make your bundle of joy your partner and don’t sweat the small stuff. And there’s always help out there if you need it:  through your health insurance, La Leche League, some state programs, etc. My biggest advice is to inquire about your options BEFORE you give birth. You’ll be way too busy and tired after the birth to browse the internet for a lactation consultant.

2) Everybody will give you their personal opinion about breastfeeding
You’ll hear more than your share about breastfeeding versus bottle feeding as you approach the delivery date. Sometimes you almost feel like there’s a war brewing out there… And whether you decide to breastfeed or not, you’ll hear both sides of the discussion. I personnally never “made the decision” to breastfeed. For me, it was something I was going to do and made sure I was successful at it, both physically and mentally. I can’t believe how many people kept telling me after I had been breastfeeding for over six months that it was long enough and I could stop now, as if I had nothing else to prove! In a way, it motivated me to continue breastfeeding, as if to show them how little I cared about their advice, but to any mom who is wondering how long she should breastfeed, those comments are very unsupportive. Just do what you want to do, breastfeed or not, for two months or 18 months, and enjoy every minute of it!

3) Your breast size is no indication of how much milk you’ll produce
I was barely a size B pre-pregnancy and became a size D by the time I started lactating, so all small-breasted women, rejoice! I found out that the key to good production is to stay hydrated yourself. The less you drink, the less milk will come out. And eating throughout the day will keep you from feeling famished and exhausted.

4) Your breast pump bag looks really cool
One day after I returned to work, a male colleague of mine pointed out to my black breast pump bag and remarked how stylish it looked, with its several conveniently placed pockets. I replied, “thanks, that’s my breast pump bag”. He looked puzzled and inquired, “your what?” “My breast pump bag. You know, breast pumping”, as I used sucking hand gestures in front of my boobs. “Aaaaah”, he said as he suddenly blushed and walked away. I think that was the last time he’ll ever compliment a lady on her bag…

5) There’s nothing else in the world like night feedings
In the still of the night, when everything is quiet in the house and everybody else in the whole world is sleeping, you get to share some very special one-on-one time with your baby. Both of you feel half asleep, half awake, skin-to-skin, laying in bed. As you listen to the rhythmic sucking-gulping process, you start breathing in a delicious baby smell. Other moms had told you about by that smell, but all they saw what your puzzled look as you thought they were just gone gaga about their babies. It’s all true, your own baby’s smell is the most wonderful scent in the world, and the good part is that it doesn’t go away as they grow up. Alright, it will probably stop in the teenage years!

6) Say goodbye to baby weight!
Breastfeeding is the EASIEST way to lose your extra pregnancy weight without having to run on a treadmill like a wild rabbit being chased by a fierce coyote. Believe it or not, you’ll still be able to eat a good amount of food, as breastfeeding literally sucks calories out of you. For every ounce of milk you make, you lose about 20 calories. I produced a lot of milk, about 30oz a day, which equals 600 calories per day. Way better than the 300 extra calories a day needed during pregnancy that we use to justify eating for two.

7) You’re doing in for yourself, not just for your baby
Breastfeeding causes small uterine contractions that help bring your uterus back to its pre-pregnancy size faster. It also reduces your risk of breast cancer by as much as 25%. And it increases your levels of oxytocin (sounds like some good drug name if you ask me!), which is a hormone that helps you relax. Something all new moms could use.

8)  You will lose calcium while lactating
The good news is the bone loss is temporary and according to some studies, women who breastfeed lower their risk of osteoporis in the long run. Take some calcium supplements while lactating, and you’ll be just fine.

9) If you can take on the breastfeeding challenge, you can do anything
I never saw breastfeeding as a chore, or as something I had to do as a mom. I saw it as a challenge and dealt with it every day, until it became a habit. The challenge was to have the baby latch properly, make sure the baby fed enough and that my nipples didn’t become raw meat in the process, and then to repeat every day until I felt it was time to stop. I stop nursing my boys around 9 months, but I continued to pump until they were 13 months old, three times a day, every day. If you can handle that, you can handle most of the inconveniences that life throws at you. And there are a lot of them once you become a parent.

10) You’ll miss it when you stop doing it
Now, you’re probably screaming, are you crazy? Nope, I’m not. Deciding when to stop was actually very difficult. After sharing a part of me (my milk) for so long with my babies and acting as their lifeline, it was hard to close that chapter. Becoming a mom is a wondering experience. First you grow a whole human being inside your womb, and your job continues when you feed that being from your own body. Sorry guys, but you’re really missing out! Breastfeeding provided me with me-time, especially when I went back to work and I pumped, alone in a locked room for 20 minutes at a time. With only the rhythm of the pump to hear and a good book to read, those were my most precious minutes of the day. It was hard to go back to the lunch room and not have that moment of peace that I so needed to get revitalized for the rest of the day.

To all moms out there, try breastfeeding and seize the day! Kids grow up fast, and the nursing months will end up being a tiny section of their lives. And if you think that breastfeeding is painful, read my post on Love hurts – why do our children cause us pain every day? I believe you’ll clearly see there’s much more pain awaiting for you!

For more breastfeeding posts, read Why is breastfeeding not considered a medical necessity? and Breastfeeding – a tale of two hospitals.

For more inspiring stories on breastfeeding moms, visit the Simple Gift blog.

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Knufflebunny, or how a green rabbit can ignite a lifetime of reading

Knuffle Bunny

Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the books below with your kids, watch for the plot unfolding below…

When my first born was around 18 months old, I stumbled upon “Knufflebunny, a cautionary tale” by Mo Willems. I was browsing the children’s books online catalog for the San Diego County library, and Willem’s book popped up on the search results. A lot faster than you can say Knufflebunny (and it’s pronounced K-nufflebunny, by the way, as Willem’s parents are both Dutch), I clicked to request the book and it arrived at the library a couple of weeks later. My first thought when I picked up the large-size book was, holy cow, my son’s going to shred that book to pieces! But I had to give it a try, at least for one reading.

Well, all I can say is that this book endured probably a hundred reading sessions at my home over the next few weeks. After about a dozen readings, my son knew the plot and remembered most of the lines. Thank you, Mo Willems for enabling my 18-month old son to pronounce “Aggle flaggle klabble”! Every parent will sympathize with Trixie’s dad when she first bawls, then goes boneless (don’t you love it when it happens?). And every mom will see herself in Trixie’s mom, who as she opens her front door instantly knows Knufflebunny is missing, while her dad was clueless about the disappearance the whole way home… Every child reading this story will identify with the feeling of losing his or her most precious possession and being reunited at the end.

An inspired Mo Willems went on to write “Knufflebunny Too: a case of mistaken identity“, where a Trixie will a full set of hair and a busy tongue finds her first best friend in pre-K through rabbit misidentity. I’ve had the pleasure to revisit both Knufflebunny books with my youngest, who seemed to have acquired a taste for reading quite later than his brother. Again, I think I can thank Mo Willems for igniting the joy of reading within him. Until then, he was a “speed reader”, meaning he would flip through picture books from beginning to end in about 30 seconds, and wouldn’t tolerate any story books. Around the age of two, I tried Knufflebunny and to my surprise, he sat still through the whole book, and asked “again” when we were done, something he had never requested before! Knufflebunny helped him slow down and smell the roses, of in this case, the laundry soap. Mo Willems, you are something else.

For more, visit Mo Willems’ website.

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Welcome to the journey of an imperfect mom

I’m a full-time working mom of two young boys, who keep me quite busy. We live in sunny San Diego, which is in my opinion a great place to raise kids, with its good weather, proximity to the beach, mountains and deserts, and an abundance of kid-friendly activities (San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, Seaworld, Legoland, etc.)

I’ve enjoyed a career in marketing communications for almost 15 years, mostly working for high-tech companies. I’ve experienced the good, the bad and the ugly of the corporate world, and there never is a dull moment.

The same can be said about life at home, where my kids can always sense when I’ve been having a good day or a bad one, because they always manage to make it better or worse, even when I think it’s not possible…

After living and breathing motherhood for the past four years, I love to continue chasing the illusion that I can perfect my mama state. It delivers a reality check almost every day!

I hope you enjoy this blog and can share some of your experiences as a parent. We’re a family of bookworms, so I’ll be sharing a lot of treasured readings for the little ones, as well as the grown-ups.

Happy reading!

Murphy’s Law in action

While I was at work 250 miles away from home for three days, my oldest son decided to run around the house and hurt his toe really bad on furniture tonight. I arranged for a babysitter to come over and watch his little brother, but their dad refused the help and all three went on an night adventure to ER land. Apparently the doctor thought it was a contusion and no break, which is hopefully true because my husband gave up on waiting for the X-ray and left the hospital without a complete diagnosis! I guess I’ll get to see that toe when I get home tomorrow night and judge for myself if it looks OK!

Why kids wait for you to be far away to hurt themselves is a mystery, but it sure makes for a stressful evening you can’t wait to forget…