Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Should You Rent a Breastpump?

Every week we have several moms come in to A Nurturing Moment to find out about renting a breastpump. Sometimes they want to make sure breastfeeding is going to work before they invest two or three hundred dollars in a good pump. Many times, though, they are trying to decide if they should rent or buy. That's a really good question, and the answer depends on several factors.

Timing of Baby's Birth
If your baby is a healthy, term baby, you should be able to exclusively breastfeed from the time he is born. As long as he is nursing well, you shouldn't need a pump to stimulate your milk supply. However, if your baby is 3 or more weeks early, he may have a very difficult time nursing. Even if he does latch on, he may not have the strength to help you establish an adequate milk supply. I tell mothers of premature babies that they really need to use a hospital-grade breastpump to establish their supply. The Medela Symphony pump actually has a preemie card, developed through extensive research, which helps the mothers of premature babies establish a more complete milk supply earlier than they would otehrwise. I think all mothers of preemies should have access to this technology!

How Nursing is Progressing
If everything is going well - no sore nipples, good milk supply, etc. - no pump is necessary in the early days. However, if a mother is experiencing cracked and bleeding nipples, then she should pump for at least 24 hours and finger feed the pumped milk using a curved tip syringe or a supplemental feeding tube. A hospital-grade pump is ideal for the mom in this situation. Even though she might have another pump, the hospital-grade pump will be more effective at helping establish and maintain a good supply.
Pumping should NEVER be painful. If it is uncomfortable, ask your lactation consultant to help you find breast shields that will fit you better.

Mom's Work Situation

First of all, I want to make a disclaimer here....I believe that ALL mothers are working mothers. The word mother implies lots and lots of hard work. Some mothers, however, have a second job outside of the home. Those mothers need to be able to pump their milk quickly and efficiently. Good pumps that a working mom can purchase include the Medela Pump in Style, Medela Freestyle, Ameda Purely Yours and Hygeia. Some mothers, though, prefer to rent a hospital-grade pump. You can rent a pump for about 4 months before it becomes more cost-effective to purchase a good quality double pump. The mom who struggles with decreased milk production when she returns to work may find that a hospital-grade rental pump will be more effective at helping her maintain her supply than a regular double pump.

What Is a Hospital-Grade Pump?
Many people really don't understand what makes a hospital-grade pump different. First of all, it is larger and has a more powerful motor. But the difference doesn't end there. Because it is a multi-user pump, a hospital-grade pump will always be a "closed" system. That means that it is engineered in such a way to make it impossible for milk to ever back up into the pump's motor. Therefore, it is totally hygienic and safe for multiple users. The two most popular hospital grade pumps are Ameda and Medela. You can use these links to find a rental station near you. Find out if the rental station allows short term rentals or pro-rates the price if you return the pump early. Some do, but many do not.

Ideally, you should rent your pump from a breastfeeding professional (IBCLC) if possible. That way you have someone who can give you solid research-based advice on your particular situation. Ultimately, your lactation consultant is the very best person to help you decide if YOU should rent a breastpump.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Breastfeeding and Obesity

You may have read that breastfeeding helps prevent childhood (and by implication, adult) obesity. According to recent statistics 2/3 of US adults and 1/5 of US children are either overweight or obese. That's really appalling! Obesity is a contributing factor in a wide variety of serious health conditions ranging from blood pressure problems to diabetes to cancer.

Health experts agree that it is important to address this problem on both a national and a local level. In July the CDC released an important document, "Recommended Community Strategies and Measurements to Prevent Obesity in the United States." This document presents 24 strategies that local communities can implement in their effort to curb the rising tide of childhood obesity. The strategies deal with food choices, exercise, availability of safe public transportation, etc. One strategy, however, stands out to me as a lactation consultant.

Strategy 11 states: Communities Should Increase Support for Breastfeeding. The document urges all governmental employers to set aside a specific place where employees can pump and store their milk. It also shows the relationship between the percentage of breastmilk a baby receives and the likelihood of childhood obesity.

What a timely statement for the CDC to make. In this time of recession when many women truly can't afford NOT to breastfeed, they have yet another incentive to do just that! However, this message isn't making it to the women who most need to hear it. The challenge facing breastfeeding advocates is clear: we must find a way to work in cooperation with local, regional and state organizations to help all mothers understand the importance of breastfeeding. I'm excited about taking on this challenge in Huntsville! How about you? Will you rise to challenge in your community??

Friday, October 9, 2009

Attachment Parenting Meets the Gridiron

I have two sons and a husband who are all sports fanatics. My 18 year old son played both football and soccer in high school. He isn't playing college sports this year, but may well be back on the soccer field next year! My 11 year old plays football, wrestles, and plays baseball. My husband played football and baseball in high school, too. So it should come as no surprise that Sports Illustrated is a staple in our household.

I picked up the Oct. 12 issue earlier this evening. An article about Florida Gator's quarterback Tim Tebow caught my eye. Though we aren't Gators fans, I think Tebow is one of the classiest young men I've ever seen. Not only is he an amazing athlete, but he also demonstrates true character. His faith has feet that take him to the Philippines to minister to children. His leadership both on the field and off it has made him a legend in his own time. In his "Point After" column, writer Chris Ballard discusses whether Tebow should play in this weekend's game against LSU.

The discussion centers on the safety of Tebow's getting back on the field after his concussion two weeks ago. As a mother of athletic kids, I felt myself responding to this column with a resounding "YES, IT'S ABOUT TIME!" reaction. We want our children to be safe and healthy. Our whole parenting style is built around helping them feel secure. Yet even at the Pop Warner level, it's so easy for both coaches and kids to want a player back in the game too soon. And pity the poor mother who says, "Um, I don't really think he's ready..."

I've been pretty lucky with my kids' coaches, but I do remember my son passing out with a concussion following a nasty hit his junior year. He was back in there way too soon, and stayed in until the coach realized that he just wasn't sharp and wasn't functioning normally. AP mom that I am, I had urged him not to play. But he was determined not to let his team down, and his coach believed him when he said he was good to go!. Fortunately, he didn't take another nasty hit, and was able to recover completely.

But the article I read tonight made me realize that I will be much more proactive with son #2. If my momma instincts tell me he's not ready to get back into a game, I'm gonna listen! Pity the poor coach who tries to cross me! Son #1 used to say I was just too protective. He thought he was invincible (common mindset for teens). I knew he wasn't, but I didn't make too big a fuss when I thought he was hurt. It will be very different with Son #2!

I'm realizing more and more how important the AP principles are to all of parenting, not just when they're little. And I'm all the more thankful that I was blessed enough to learn about this wonderful parenting philosophy!