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boobs {for a good cause}

6 Oct

Almost everyone knows that October is breast cancer awareness month.  There are events like, Susan G. Komen’s Race for the Cure and even opportunities to help raise money to find a cure through Yoplait’s Save Lids to Save Lives.  I’m sure there are many other wonderful and meaningful fundraising opportunities, those are just the first two to come to mind.

I am very fortunate to be able to say that there are no women {or men…yep, they can get it too} in my family that have been diagnosed with breast cancer {other cancers…we are not always as lucky}.  That is really amazing and truly a blessing considering the Susan G. Komen website notes that every 69 seconds a woman loses her life to breast cancer.  It only takes the diagnosis of one person for an unaffected family to be considered one with a “family history” then requiring more meticulous and earlier screenings to hopefully prevent the onset or spread of cancer.

I believe in almost all things prevention oriented.  I love that simple lifestyle practices like eating healthy, exercising, being a non-smoker, limiting alcohol consumption and getting some vitamin D {I♥sun} may decrease my chances of developing certain cancers.  And, breastfeeding  may decrease my risk of developing breast cancer…one more bonus of breastfeeding!  You can read more seriously fun facts about pregnancy and breast cancer here {I was pumped about my decreased risks until I got to “you may have an increased risk if you delivered a high birth-weight baby.”  Ummm….x2 for me…boo!}.

Breast self-exams are not a big push these days, but being familiar with your breasts and the underlying {sometimes normally lumpy} tissue is still of great importance.  Probably the easiest way to stay in the know is to pay attention while you are bathing…take a moment for a quick self-assessment while you shower!  Routine mammograms usually starting at the age of 40 or 50 depending on your personal and family history are still in favor as well. Genetic testing for breast cancer genes are also available and have started a wave of women seeking preventive surgery.

Last week I couldn’t wait to welcome October and the color orange, but October is obviously all about the pink!  There won’t be any problem finding color-appropriate clothing to show our support in this home {my lil’ girl may have her mama’s love for all things pink}!

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Pump…

29 Aug

It’s hard to believe that August is almost over…another summer down.  Kids and college students are going back to school and my little girl will be joining them in pre-k this time next year {I have to hold back tears if I really let myself think about that}.  Football season, crisp fall weather, and pumpkin patches are just around the corner.  It’s really a very lovely time of year, especially where my family and I live.

Breastfeeding awareness month is also coming to an end.  I have put in a few days of paid labor this month and while I sat back in a plasticky recliner, hooked up to a hospital-grade pump, in a private lactation room decorated with pictures of  beautiful babies, I couldn’t help but think about the working mamas out there {many of whom are pumping from their cubicle, their car, or even worse…the workplace restroom}.  I have heard that being a stay-at-home mom is the most difficult job {and sometimes I must agree…it’s not glamorous, there may be playdates, but no bonbons}, but working moms may have it harder.  I couldn’t imagine pumping day after day, week after week, for months and months while trying to work.  I find it difficult  to squeeze in even one 15 minute pump-break during my entire 12- hour shift.  I’m not trying to convince any future working-mamas not to breastfeed, I just want to give the moms out there who have done it an enormous pat on the back.

Pumping, like early breastfeeding, is not always simple.  There is a lot of necessary equipment and knowledge needed to ensure your milk is expressed effectively and stored safely.  KidsHealth is a great site for information about pumping and storage of breastmilk, and Medela has chart about storage guidelines {for fresh, refrigerated, frozen, etc.} that was once magnetized to the side of my refrigerator between Christmas cards and birth announcements.

There are two products available now that I wish I had known about sooner {maybe they weren’t available when I started nursing?} First, Micro-Steam Bags. These little bags steam clean and disinfect all of your pumping equipment {and more} in the microwave in just a few minutes.  I would have loved to skip disinfecting every bottle, paci, and pump piece in boiling water before it’s first use {and now carefully hand-washing every pumping accessory after every use}…what a waste of time!  Second, Milkscreen.  These are little test strips that detect the amount of alcohol in your breastmilk so you can enjoy that occasional glass of wine.  They take the guesswork out of determining what “drinking in moderation” really is and let you know when it’s time to “pump and dump.”

Breastfeeding or not, working moms have a major job on their hands.  When their workday is done, they report home to their next job and responsibility…their family.  I must say a very heartfelt thank you to my hard-working husband.  He is the reason I don’t have to pump everyday for the first year of my children’s lives.  He is the reason next year {when Olive attends pre-k} will be only the first year that I will have to leave my firstborn in the care of another {hopefully very well-trained} adult for hours at a time.  Being a stay-at-home mama is not everyone’s dream, but it has always been my dream.  Thank you, babe.

Free!!!

9 Aug

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Retaining some element of privacy is important to me.  Having a baby tends to strip a girl of that from the moment of that first prenatal appointment all the way to discharge from the hospital post-delivery.  It is a long 9 (let’s be honest…it’s more like 10) months of poking, prodding, and peeing in cups.

Then it’s on to breastfeeding.  And that is a long year of feeding, pumping, and mastering the art of discreet nursing.

At home, nursing tank-tops are awesome.  Mine have a little spandex in them, so they gently squished in some of that post-partum belly {it’s not always the boobs that you want to hide} and kept it concealed while I nursed.  Since my last baby was a winter-baby, I usually had a shirt {ahem, pajama top} over my nursing tank.  Not a single thing can be seen with that combination…it is probably public-nursing safe if you are comfortable with that sort of thing {like I’ve said, I’m modest…very}.

Newborns eat ALL THE TIME, so it can be difficult to plan an outing that doesn’t involve a nursing break.  I find myself frequently nursing in the car, a time or two in a public bathroom {yuck!}, and often in department store dressing rooms{♥!♥!♥}.  Dressing rooms are perfect…privacy, a place to sit, and a mirror for my daughter to entertain herself {bliss!}.

I mentioned last week that August is breastfeeding awareness month.  In honor of this special month, Udder Covers is giving away nursing covers {cost of shipping only}!!  I always admire nursing covers when other moms use them…they appear user-friendly and I love some of the fabrics and patterns I have seen.  I resisted buying one for myself because I didn’t want ANY MORE baby gear, so I just opted for the old-fashioned blanket-cover when necessary.  I ordered my FREE one today though and am looking forward to trying it out OR gifting it to an expectant mama {even better}.

I hope you’ll get one too!

Change of heart…

4 Aug

I have heard that August is breastfeeding awareness month and also that this is breastfeeding awareness week…I’m not sure which one is correct, but I’m a huge advocate of breastfeeding, so I’ll consider this my contribution to the cause!

I haven’t always been the big supporter of breastfeeding that I am now.  I am modest almost  to a fault and the thought of exposing a breast to feed my child {even in the privacy of my home} seemed strange to me at one time.

As a new graduate working in the NICU, part of my job description was to assist  new mothers with breastfeeding when necessary.  At that time, I couldn’t leave a nursing mom’s side fast enough…I felt uncomfortable, so I would politely excuse myself citing respect of their privacy.

Our pediatrician provided us with this book at my daughter's fist visit. It's a great resource!

As a public health nurse,  I received countless hours of breastfeeding education before even seeing my first client.  My younger, child-less self  held back eye-rolls at some information provided by the lactation-Nazis, but somewhere between bonding and children’s health, they won me over.  I was on a mission to promote breastfeeding with my clients and for the first time felt very comfortable doing so.

The benefits of breastfeeding to both mother and child are numerous {click here to read a research-based list of many of breastfeeding’s greatest benefits}. My favorites are the prevention of illness and reduction of SIDS {I’ve mentioned before how fearful I am of that}.

These days when people ask me if I am still nursing, I have to ask them to clarify what form of nursing they are talking about…feeding my child or caring for patients as a Registered Nurse?  My answer is “both.”  I am aiming to achieve the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation to breastfeed for my baby’s first year of life {although not exclusively, solid foods should be started at about 6 months}.  I have done it once and I know I can do it again!

When it comes to doing what I think is best for my children, not even the fear of developing saggy boobs can stop me!  Having healthy children is well-worth any cosmetic consequence.  And, modesty??  I haven’t thrown that out, but a chubby baby laying across my lap provides a lot of coverage!