Category Archives: Breastfeeding

to the weaning mama with a frozen breastmilk stockpile

Around 11 months old, my son stopped drinking breastmilk from a bottle. We tried it in all sorts of varied sippy cups but he refused. While we continued breastfeeding at home, he preferred it straight from the tap so we stopped sending breastmilk to daycare. I continued pumping at work for a few weeks after his refusal and then slowly started to wind down after I realized it wasn’t a temporary strike.

I had accumulated a modest stockpile of breastmilk that he would never drink again. I had been following the adventures of a nearby milk bank and donation center and was excited to donate.

I finally got around to investigating what the criteria were to qualify and alas, I had waited too long! Now 21 months, I had let this one hang on my to-do list for too long. The maximum storage time in a regular freezer is 6 months (which I was over by about 4-6 months)

So with that, I tossed all 62 of of frozen breastmilk and tried not to shed too many tears in the process.

Above I am sharing some of the qualifications for any interested mamas out there in hopes it will reach you at just the right time.

If you are in the Midwest, check out Mothers Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes for more great info.

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6 Things I Learned When Breastfeeding Through the Flu

The flu visited our house last week and overstayed it’s welcome — as in, it’s still here. Visiting. Making our lives more strained than we ever bargained for the week before Christmas.

Of the many complexities an illness brings to our family with wee ones, one of the biggest is that of keeping the littlest baby healthy & strong, particularly because our baby is under 6 months, meaning he isn’t eligible for the vaccine and with mama sick, his source of nourishment (breastmilk) is at risk.

But with this flu strain being more severe & not covered by the current vaccine, I know I’m likely not alone so here us what I’ve learned.

1. Not only is breastfeeding recommended during the flu but it is the gold standard.
I mean, I didn’t really doubt this but I looked it up to be sure and I found out that, really, there are very few & extremely rare instances in which a hiatus from breastfeeding might actually be required (when a disease might be transmitted through the milk). It does not include when mama gets the flu. So we are pushing through, breastfeeding often & on demand. And hoping the defenses my immune system is building, is passed through the milk to protect him too – preventing illness all together or if he does get sick, the gained immunity may mean he’s not as sick as me.

2. Pumping my breastmilk for (healthy) dad to bottle feed turned out to be a non-option.
On the first day I experienced flu symptoms, I was completely down and out. I wanted to crawl into bed and remain undisturbed. So naturally, I asked Husband to prep a bottle with some fresh breast milk that happened to be in the fridge (what luck!) and I would pump after I got some rest. However, my attempt at nap was soon interrupted with a frustrated baby & daddy. Here’s the thing – babies know when you are around. It’s like they have a 6th sense – they can smell you from 10 rooms away. I suppose this comes in handy for things like survival but when it comes to the flu – it was not helpful. While I did want rest, I also wanted to cuddle my baby for a breastfeeding session. I was just so afraid of exposing him to any germs I might have.

3. Limit face-to-face contact by wearing a mask.
This was the single defining factor that made me feel more comfortable breastfeeding during those early days where I felt like I was a walking plague. Wearing a mask during breastfeeding was a physical reminder for me not to inadvertently kiss him out of habit. Wearing a mask also protects germs from spreading if I have to sneeze, cough, etc. while breastfeeding.

4. My supply diminished and there were some fleeting moments of panic
Dehydration, not enough rest, and an immune system that is kicked into high gear are all factors that decreased my milk supply. Nursing often is a sure way to keep supply up. Breasts work on supply-and-demand so they must be emptied frequently to get the message to continue to fill up. I think nursing frequently is the biggest equation in the factor but it’s also the hardest. When I struggled with this, I turned to foods when I was finally feeling up for eating again. Foods that increase milk supply (or galactagogues) that I keep handy include: oats, brewers yeast, fennel seeds, & garlic (bonus – garlic is known to help fight infection too!). Nursing Support Tea is my saving grace when my appetite is just returning but not ready for anything too heavy yet. This tea is warm, fragrant, and soothing with a lovely blend of herbs that help to increase milk supply.

5. Low supply is fixable
After a few days with the flu, it seemed like my low supply was dragging on & his appetite was just not getting satiated. Feeling like I was failing him, I felt hopeless. Thoughts briefly crossed my mind about possibly supplementing but I knew I couldn’t bear to go down that road. So I buckled down and focused on hydration — drinking not only water now but bottles upon bottles of Gatorade. This was a fun way to get in more fluids and also track my progress because I kept losing track of how many times my water bottle got refilled (short answer: not enough!). I got to bed early, took naps when my littles did, and slept in when it was feasible (ha!).

6. Most medications for the flu are okay to take while breastfeeding
Pre-motherhood, I probably wouldn’t have taken much -perhaps resting & riding it out. But much to my dismay, I learned that motherhood requires me to be functioning. I stuck to acetaminophen to keep me feeling functional and avoided anything else, particularly ones that might impact milk supply or be unsafe for lactating moms.

So there you have it – things I’m learning as I get through the flu for the first time while breastfeeding. Godspeed & good health to you, mamas!

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Sacred Moments: 10 Things to Do While Pumping for your Breastfed Baby


I’ve been back to work for 2 months now and getting settled into a pumping routine has been a top priority. There is a bright & airy empty office that has been assigned as my pumping room. It is my getaway — a peaceful place of solace in the midst of the hectic rush of the day, blank walls, a clean careening desk, high windows with sunlight streaming in past the neighboring skyscrapers, 20 floors closer to the brazen sun. There is something special about knowing that sandwiched in between the rush of daycare drop offs, the maze of mass transit schedules, the craze of emails and discussions that need to fit into the short hours of each day, that there’s this — a continuous set of quiet moments, smushed together, back-to-back — these moments of quiet time to turn off my monkey brain and tend to my babe even though he is nowhere near me. My mind almost explodes when I think of the possibilities of what can be done with this time.

A study was recently published that confirmed the transcendence of the nursing relationship beyond just meeting physical hunger.

The study suggests that breast milk delivers more than just nutrients to the baby — messages are transmitted as well . In the study, “infant monkeys relied on cortisol [present in the breast milk] to detect the condition of their mothers, the authors suggest, then adjust their growth and even shift their temperaments.” That means that when mom is under high stress conditions or hasn’t completely unraveled from the tense negotiations in an earlier meeting, the heightened stress hormones, like cortisol are still coursing through the bloodstream & into the milk supply. And the chronic stress & worry we may feel as parents, there’s that baseline of stress present too.

So as I nestle myself into my oasis in the midst of it all, smushed breasts, whirring machine, I resolve. I resolve to foster conditions that are peaceful & calming, quiet & uninterrupted, thinking only about this moment. This moment that I pour my energy out – physical & spiritual – for my little one to drink up. And I pray the drink is one that delivers a message that there is enough and that he is enough and I am enough. That the world is inherently good and life is inherently funny and people are for us – a message often forgotten in the day-to-day hustle.

The resolve is fresh, renewed each day. It doesn’t come automatically. Yet. But one of the beautiful provisions of motherhood is we get to do the same things each day, perhaps repetitive & tiresome, but full of unbounded opportunity. To turn mundane tasks into a prayer, to create a loving intention, to believe that we are making a difference by being present, in the little things, day in & day out. It is the holy work of raising human beings.

Here’s my list. The one I keep coming to over & over again when I need to remind myself of the importance we hold for our children — as a giver of good energy, bestower of blessings — even in the seemingly mundane task of pumping breast milk.

1. Read an ebook – to ease into the good energies, I love a good laugh like the ones I find here and here. Or an inspirational read, like this one.

2. Meditate – Deepak Chopra & Oprah offer some great 21-day series together – free! I also enjoy meditations led by this lady and this lady.

3. Watch videos of your baby(ies) – this will stimulate feelings of connection as well as your flow of breastmilk, feel less connected to a piece of machinery & more connected to your little one.

4. Pray – take all your worries & lift them up in prayer

5. Memorize scripturethis one is a favorite

6. Do a bible study or devotional – reading a new chapter each day or focusing on one book a month. this guide looks great for the Advent season.

7. Email your baby – tell them the latest thing they did that was so cool or funny or charming or surprising or more likely completely exhausting to you

8. Make to-do lists – if you’re anything like me, making & organizing to-do lists is strangely calming and satisfying

9. Relaxation techniques – observe your body for tensions, let them go by breathing deeply & slowly

10. Scroll through an inspirational quotes board on Pinterest – so many good quotes, never enough time!

Happy Pumping, Mamas.


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