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Sep 16 2014

MIT Research Group Asks: Why Does the Breast Pump Suck So Much?

By at 2:12 pm


Hate pumping? You’re not alone. Most of those human milk machines are loud, clunky, uncomfortable, and prone to spillage. The double breast pump is especially creepy looking. (Kveller’s Director of Operations, Meredith Lewis, wrote about her love-hate relationship with the breast pump here.)

But pumping is important, not just for working moms who want to stay connected to their infants, but for premature and orphaned babies that rely on pumped milk for survival.

That’s why MIT Media Lab is hosting a “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck Hackathon.” Organized by a group of students and researchers at MIT who are also parents, between 60 and 80 designers, engineers, lactation consultants, parents, and public health researchers have gathered together to brainstorm ways to make life easier for moms and their babies. Cash prizes range from $1,000 to $3,000, sponsored by breast pump manufacturers like Modela and Vecna Technologies. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 30 2013

The Day of a Thousand Parenting Fails

By at 10:14 am

personal organizer "don't forget"

It’s not even 11 a.m. and already it has been the “Day of A Thousand F*ckups.”

I’m not a naturally organized person, as I’ve mentioned before. Being a mom to five kids, therefore, has been a true test of whether a person can change. And to a certain extent, I have. I now do crazy things like planning out the week’s dinner menus in advance. I make shopping lists before going to the store rather than just purchasing what seems interesting. I even bought a calendar to hang on the wall. I can’t always find a pen, but I’m getting there.

And yet, my disorganized, where-the-hell-is-my-other-sock self is not gone. It is only hidden. And when that self comes out, watch out.

Today is apparently that day. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 15 2013

I Can’t Bring Myself to Throw Away the Breast Milk

By at 10:07 am


About four months ago, I stopped pumping.

I know. It’s a big deal. I’m a part-time, work-from-home mom, so pumping was something I had to do in order to go out and get in a few hours at the office. Every night, around 9 p.m. I’d get my water, wash my hands, set up the pump, and watch TV. After an hour of being attached to flanges that made an arooga sound as they pulled on my nipples, I’d have a few ounces and I’d know that I could leave the house the next time the babysitter came by.

Oh man, that pump. I know I’m not the first to complain about the noises it made (the TV volume was always up so high so I could hear over the damn thing) or about the way it could hurt or about how my relationship with cow’s milk has changed now that I myself have been like the cow. And yes, I would multitask, working my way through my DVR, sometimes attempting to respond to emails, but still–it was a huge commitment of time and energy, every night. Every night for almost a year. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 26 2013

No More Screaming at the Breast Pump for Me

By at 10:10 am

breast pumpOne of the things I’m most proud of as a mother is nursing my older son for a year. And now one of the other things I am most proud of is weaning my younger son at 6 months.

Nursing my older son Ari wasn’t easy. Like many moms, it took weeks to find our groove. Just as I was getting the hang of things, I had to head back to work when Ari turned 3 months old. From there my love-hate relationship with my breast pump began.

Due to my son’s (amazing) sleep schedule and my work schedule, I would often go days at a time with only one nursing, if even that. It was just me and the pump. At some point, my pumping became only about the milk and not the feeding of my son. I was constantly worried if I was making enough milk. Was there a deep supply in the freezer? Would I have to give him what I thought was a dreaded bottle of formula? I was pretty miserable breastfeeding. I distinctly remember hating nearly every minute of it, but I persisted. I didn’t think I had any other choice.

I swore with my next child that I wouldn’t be all consumed by the milk. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 11 2013

I Caught My Husband Sneaking Formula to the Twins

By at 12:55 pm

baby formulaI have realized in the last few weeks that one of the biggest challenges of having twins is feeding them. They seem to eat all the time, around the clock, especially during a growth spurt when wearing a bra seems useless.

I am fortunate that I didn’t have any challenges nursing my son three years ago and I am not having any serious issues with my girls now. My girls latched within an hour of their births and my milk came in on the third day (in spite of my C-section which can delay milk production). I do pump more than I would like, but that is mostly for efficiency. To nurse them would take longer and I feel I would have no time to do anything else (you know, trivial stuff like showering and eating).

My girls arrived five weeks early and combined they weighed less than my son when he was born. They lacked the lovely fat that makes babies look cute and plump; instead, they had skinny little chicken legs and their skin hung off them like pantyhose several sizes too big. That made regulating their body temperature a challenge, so for the couple days in the hospital before my milk emerged, we decided to give them formula. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 10 2012

Why Was Breast Milk Banned from an Israeli Maternity Ward Fridge?

By at 4:43 pm

locked refigeratorIt all started with a note taped to a refrigerator. Not just any fridge; this was the staff refrigerator in a hospital maternity ward in Jerusalem. The nurse, who discovered the note, was placing her pumped breast milk therein when she noticed it. “To Whom It May Concern,” read the politely worded note with a less than polite message, “Please do not store breast milk in this refrigerator. The Staff.”

Back just a few days from her maternity leave, as the only nursing mother on staff, the letter may as well have been addressed to her. Shocked, she complained up the chain of command all the way to upper management. She was told that each ward is its own democracy and can decide independently if it wants to allow breast milk to be placed in its own staff refrigerators. Unable to be a part of a “democracy” that could make such decisions, the nurse resigned. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 22 2011

New Moms Don’t (Usually) Need Breast Pumps

By at 4:17 pm

By Alice Chaos/flickr

I had a significant set of difficulties breastfeeding both of my sons. If not for the patient and devoted La Leche League leaders and lactation consultants who gave me advice, support, and a shoulder to cry on, I could not have nursed both of my boys into toddlerhood (and still going…) the way I believe nature intended me to. I wanted to be able to provide that advice, support and shoulder to women who struggled to breastfeed. So, last year I became certified as a Lactation Educator Counselor as the start of my pursuit to eventually become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

Since becoming certified, I have been privileged to counsel a handful of women, mostly over the phone, and a few in person, with what I deem success: confidence in breastfeeding and mothering was bolstered, problems troubleshooted, babies breastfeeding happily, and mothers and fathers more rested.

In recent months, I have counseled two women with week old babies who both had the same question: they wanted to know how to start using a breastpump. Neither woman worked outside of the home or had any difficulty breastfeeding, establishing the milk supply, or adjusting to life with a baby. They were simply ready to start pumping to “sock away milk” and “get some time away.”

Before I go on, I want to say that I understand why breast pumps are helpful and useful. A breast pump helped me establish my milk supply and give my newborn the precious colostrum he needed when he was in the NICU for the first four days of his life. Breast pumps can help women continue to provide breastmilk for their children when they return to work or are away from their babies. I have used breast pumps and I understand why people use them.

So what’s my lactivist beef? (Could that sound any more un-kosher?!) Why do I not recommend (nor would any lactation consultant) using a breast pump with a newborn if there is no pressing need to?

The Science. Establishing and maintaining a milk supply is best achieved by breastfeeding. Period. A breast pump cannot take the place of a baby and can, in fact, interfere with your body learning the rhythms and breast milk desires of your baby. No pump can match the stimulation and sucking power of a human baby, and frequent on-demand baby-to-breast ’round the clock for the better part of the first 3 months is the “best” way to do that. This is good for the milk supply, good for the baby (no artificial breast milk has ever come close to matching human breast milk and that’s not propaganda, it’s just the truth), and it’s good for the mama’s mental and physical health as well. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 22 2011

The Story of 10 Women Pumping Milk Together

By at 9:59 am

Maggie Ball in the AJWS Lactation Room--check out those cute baby photos!

Here’s the story of 10 lactating mamas who turned an office into a shared pumping area. (You can imagine that it would get quite cozy.) The women work at American Jewish World Service and they put together their story for a contest for World Breastfeeding Week sponsored by Health Connect One.

We are the “Milk Mamas” of AJWS, 10 women (that’s 10% of our staff!) who are deeply grateful for the love and support we have received over the last year after being thrown together in our office’s lactation room. There is NO private pumping time in our lactation room. Therefore, we consider ourselves more than lucky to have accidentally formed the most wonderful new moms’ group.

Our Lactation Room

We meet there in twos and threes throughout the day to express milk, problem-solve the challenges of motherhood, and joke about the constant foibles of being a nursing mother in the workplace. Despite struggles with supply, thrush, mastitis, and travels (and pumping!) around the world, many of our children are approaching their first birthday and we are all still pumping. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but in our experience, it takes a pumping room full of thoughtful, encouraging and hilarious moms to get a working mama through the first year without losing her sanity!

Our lactation room consists of four chairs, two computers, a mini fridge, hand sanitizer, adorable pictures of all the babies, a notebook where we can ask each other questions and provide notes of encouragement. We think our stories below should be called “Oh, the Places We’ve Pumped,” because as every working mom knows, there is no breastfeeding without pumping.

In Turkey, They Wanted My Pump
I was in Turkey for my first work trip away from my almost 1-year-old daughter. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 28 2011

Me vs. My Boobs

By at 2:10 pm

For the last month, I’ve been waging a battle against my breasts.

My first son and I had an effortless breastfeeding relationship. Though the first few weeks were tough, we quickly found our footing. Working from home, I nursed him on demand, and relied mostly on the prodigious oversupply in the freezer to supply the odd bottle.

My second son has been a different story. We had a breezy start, followed by four months of blissful maternity leave. Then I went back to work….in an office. I was completely overwhelmed at the prospect of all that pumping. But with some good advice and a whole lot of sympathy from our local moms list-serve I set the goal of making it to six months (I’m a big fan of interim goals).

At six months everything was going well. My workplace is supportive, I’d found the privacy I needed, and I was pumping more than my baby needed (I even donated 30 ounces to a local mom).

And then, at about 9 months, the bottles stopped being so full.  Whereas at one point I could get 10 ounces in one sitting, now I was struggling to get three, and work was getting busier and more stressful. As I plowed through my freezer supply, I feared my pumping days were over. Though I’m the kind of person who likes to control everything, I was powerless over my boobs. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 26 2011

Beware of the Boobies

By at 3:29 pm

A breastfeeding doll is heading to the US after making a splash in Europe.

Don’t read this if you are easily freaked out by breasts.

Apparently, people can be really freaked out by breasts. Breasts can be titillating (deliberate word choice), but can also inspire panic and fear. Admittedly, panic and fear is not generally prompted by viewing of a Girls Gone Wild: Mardi Gras New Orleans Special! No, apparently, panic and fear are natural, visceral responses to a breast’s natural and visceral use, i.e. to feed a small person.

As you’ll recall, my husband J. and I will have our first anniversary this fall, but had our first child two weeks ago (it was a blissfully efficient honeymoon). So we’re pretty fond of each other and all in that newlywed, making-other-people-kind-of-sick way. We went out last night and had a lovely time. Driving home from the movies last night (it is going to be a rude awakening when the baby nurse leaves), I said to my husband, “You know, I get the strangest feeling that lately, you’re vaguely scared of my breasts.”

“What makes you say that?” he asked. Note: no denial. After some hesitation, he said, “Well, yes…I’m a little scared that they’re going to blow.”

“Hon, they’re breasts, not hand grenades,” I told him. But I could see where he’d make that mistake. Thanks to breastfeeding, the girls have turned into full-fledged Amazon women. They are fierce ladies who don’t want to be contained by any regular bra. Instead, they’re bound up into snap-and-trap-like contraptions that could be oddly erotic, in a dominatrix-y way…except for the fact that they are SO not.

The dichotomy between hot boobs and breastfeeding boobs is a gap that is approximately as wide as the Grand Canyon. Nursing is not erotic. And if you venture the opinion that it is, I have one Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breast Pump that will prove you wrong. My 6-year-old son came downstairs after being tucked in one night, only to find the woman formerly known as his mother on the couch, with bottles and suction materials poking out from a KKK-esque bustier she was sporting, nipples poking out of the eyeholes. His eyeballs nearly fell out of their sockets. Whatever bad dream he came downstairs to address, I’m pretty sure I topped it. Read the rest of this entry →


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