Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Breastfeeding Necessities

My son is now 8 weeks old and I am LOVING breastfeeding my second time around! Breastfeeding should be simple, right. Just you and the baby. No bits and pieces to take along or wash. You're ready to go whenever baby needs with no cleanup required (except for the milk mouth)!

That is true and makes breastfeeding so much nicer than bottle feeding with all its included preparation and clean-up. But I want to share some of the gadgets that I've been using which is turning breastfeeding into almost as much of an obsession as cloth diapering! I just love all these things that I've found to make the experience that much more exciting!

The first is the Undercover Mama. This awesome invention keeps your belly covered while you nurse. Instead of buying an expensive nursing tank or forfeiting your favorite bra, you can keep your bra and save money with this product. It attaches to your own bra and drops down when you release the clasp on your bra! I am living in it these days! I wear it to bed too because my belly always gets cold when I'm nursing in bed at night!

Next is the Milkies Milk Saver. This thing is ingenious. All you can think about when you take off your soaking breast pads is how much milk was wasted that is now going to be washed out. Especially when you need to pump and every drop counts! It is a little large and I would love one that I could wear all day long, but it's got a great design. You put it in your bra on the other side than you're nursing on. And it catches all the milk with let-down. I once collected 2 oz using this! It even comes with a heavy-duty case that acts as a stand to hold it upright.

My last ingenious invention is Milk Trays. With my first child, I couldn't believe how expensive those bags are to freeze breastmilk in. Were they really necessary? What's wrong with plain old freezer bags? Of course no one had an answer so I used them - protecting my precious breastmilk for my baby. I'd hate for it to get ruined or freezer burned. Then I saw Milk Trays. They are specially designed, made of medical grade plastic, with 1 oz compartments. You pour the milk into the compartments from the bottle that you pump into. Then you freeze it. When they're frozen, you pop out the one-ounce sticks and store them in a regular freezer bag. Date the bag by the week so you use up old milk first. To defrost just put as many sticks as needed into a bottle and defrost in warm water like you normally would. This way you save every drop and don't defrost more than you need and have to throw it away. Then just rinse out the trays and reuse!

Of course, I would be remiss if I failed to mention My Brest Friend as a true nursing necessity. It provides unbelievable support and comfort, even for the new breastfeeding mama with a tiny newborn. At that early stage you truly don't have enough hands and support to keep everything in place. This pillow wraps around your body and is very adjustable both in how high or low you set it and in how snug it fits around your belly. It has a flat surface so the baby doesn't roll in to you and supports your arms and back. The great thing I've found, even with nursing an older (relatively-speaking) baby, is that it comes in very handy when I'm nursing on one side and pumping on the other. I do that to maximize my pumping, which I need to do for work. The pillow completely supports the baby, so I don't need to use 2 hands to hold him, and I can hold the pump and usually still read a book or type on my laptop. For the modern woman!
My Brest Friend comes in super pattern choices, offers a plush deluxe cover option, has slipcovers that can be switched out, and even has a Twin Pillow!

Speaking of the modern breastfeeding mama, check out the Easy Expression by Medela. It comes as a halter or bustier and holds your pump in place so you're hands-free and can get things done! Truly vital if you're pumping at work. I have even heard first-hand of some women who pump in the car on their long commute. Have to be hands-free for that!

Happy Breastfeeding!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Cat Wearing

One day I was doing my helpful thing at Soft and Cozy Baby when an older local lady came in, looking bewildered. She was all the stereotypes of “crazy cat lady” that one can think of, so I was ready for an interesting conversation. She was looking for a baby carrier- a cheap one to wear on the chest, she stressed. I showed her our Moby Wrap and she was instantly overwhelmed. So I showed her the Baby K’tan as the easier alternative, and she said “I’m just worried that her claws will snag that fabric.” Claws, you say? It turned out that she had an ailing cat at home that she would like to wear, because kitty didn’t like to be away from her and could not go up and down stairs anymore.

Ah! Considering that I am no stranger to wearing cats, I indulged her request. I told her to go to any thrift store and pick up a Baby Bjorn or Infantino, as it would be perfect for her to wear her invalid cat. I printed out some examples of a “crotch dangler” and sent her on her way. I love Baltimore!

A few weeks later, Cat Lady stopped by again…with the little black cat strapped to her chest facing out in an old blue and plaid Baby Bjorn, cost $5! She was elated, and the cat was either quite comfortable and happy, or half dead. Another satisfied customer!

And that is the only time I will ever recommend a Baby Bjorn! Why? Because there are hundreds of more supportive and more versatile-not to mention more stylish-baby carriers on the market, for about the same price.

The Baby Bjorn only allows parents to wear their babies on the front, to a maximum weight of about 20 pounds. Many folks won’t even make it to that weight limit before giving up on babywearing because of the Bjorn’s design, which does not distribute baby’s weight comfortably for parent OR baby.

Let’s compare the Bjorn with one of our most popular (and my favorite) soft structured carriers, the Ergo Baby.

The Ergo has a wide, padded waist strap that effectively spreads almost all of baby’s weight onto the hips, which as all mothers know, are designed to bear lots of weight. The Bjorn “hangs” all of baby’s weight on the adult’s trapezius muscles, which are not designed to bear any weight at all.

Furthermore, the Ergo places baby in a comfortable “seated” position, spreading their legs in an ergonomic position (hence, “Ergo”) that also helps distribute baby’s weight evenly onto your hips. The Bjorn concentrates all of baby’s weight on a small strip of fabric between baby's legs, which hang straight down instead of curling around the wearer's body. This allows baby's weight to press on baby's small, delicate crotch area, which is thought to cause spine and genital issues.

The third feature that makes the Ergo and other similar soft structured carriers a much more practical choice than the Bjorn is the ability to wear your child on your back. This allows you to carry heavier children (up to 45 lbs!) for much longer periods of time, as well as be able to do housework or other tasks that require your arms. I have carried a 40-lb five-year-old on my back for several hours in my Ergo with no difficulty or pain at all!

The only thing that the Ergo cannot do that a Baby Bjorn does is allow baby to face outward, but this is not a design flaw. The “facing out” position does not distribute baby’s weight or position baby’s spine ergonomically, so the “facing out” position is not optimal for long periods of comfortable babywearing. Furthermore, it is thought that babies can get stressed and overstimulated if facing out for long periods of time- they can’t see their caregiver or turn away from the stimulating outside world if they need to. But for those who have babies who do like to see what’s going on, there are carriers like the Beco Gemini, FreeHand, and Pikkolo. These carriers are a great cross between the Bjorn and a standard soft structured carrier like the Ergo- they have a supportive waist strap AND allow baby to be worn facing in, facing out, and on your back!