Got Mommy Milk? Storage Tips and Tricks. 

For those moms lucky enough to be able to nurse our babies and still have extra milk from pumping you may be wondering what the heck do I do with all this milk?! What starts as a couple extra bottles in the fridge can quickly turn into a freezer full of milk… trust me… it happened to me! This article is going to share some tips I learned for organizing and getting the most out of your stored milk.

First things first:

If you are making enough milk to feed baby and still store extra milk, although this feels great and reassuring to have a back up for those “just in case moments”, please make sure you aren’t driving yourself nuts and stressing about saving some ridiculous amount of milk. I did exactly this and looking back I really should have just chilled about it and probably pumped a lot less. Okay, now that I have that off my chest haha.. a lot of really wonderfully things came from my ridiculous need to be a serious over achiever.

  1. I stored enough milk to fill an entire deep freezer and my regular freezer (this is when I realized I had a problem haha). I have used this stored milk as milk to send to daycare daily since my daughter started daycare at 3 months old. We currently have about 1 months worth still stored (LO is currently 15mo old) 😂 Not having to supplement with formula for feedings while I’m at work has been awesome and has saved a ton of money!
  2. I was able to donate over 1000 oz to 3 local families in need of breastmilk for their babies.

Tips:

  1. Use Lansinoh storage bags. They’re the best. I tried others (Medela etc). They aren’t as good. Trust me on this.
  2. Go ahead and pour your milk into the Lansinoh bag immediately after pumping. Don’t let the milk sit in the bottle in the fridge and let the fat separate and have to swirl it around a million times and hope you aren’t shaking it hard enough to break down the beneficial proteins. Blah blah blah. I think about those stupid proteins every time I swirl the milk 🙄
  3. Add the amount of milk you’ll eventually use for one bottle to each bag.. that being said who the heck knows how many ounces baby will eat when you use each particular bag. So.. you could make a variety and freeze some 5oz, 4oz, 3oz, 2oz, and 1oz bags; I didn’t do this because I’m stingy and didn’t want to spend $500 on bags. My method worked fine and wasn’t wasteful. Just keep the extra milk in the bag in your fridge and use it within 24 hours.
  4. Before freezing your breastmilk in the Lansinoh bags try to squeeze most of the extra air out of the bag. Using your pointer and middle finger to squeeze the top of the bag like a tube of toothpaste this will quickly and easily get all the air out. Getting air out helps the bags freeze flatter and more even. This will help you maximize your freezer space.
  5. Don’t forget to write the date on your bags.
  6. Lay the bags horizontally on a flat surface to freeze. If your freezer has a grooved bottom or wire rack I suggest cutting a piece of cardboard and leaving it in the freezer as a flat surface for freezing your bags.
  7. Do NOT waste your money on freezer storage racks. You know the ones I’m talking about the $15 racks that hold 12 bags of milk and take up an odd sized portion of your freezer. Don’t do it!
  8. Here comes the magical breastmilk storage hack.. I don’t think you’re ready.. it’s giftbags! 🎉 Yep it’s that easy! Grab some small giftbags from the store and cut a slit in the bottom of one of the small sides. TheLansinoh breastmilk storage bags fit perfectly inside. I will recommend adding a little tape to reinforce the ends of your cut so that the bag doesn’t rip open once you add your milk and pick it up.
  9. Another tip pertaining to this method of storage is to write the earliest date of the milk in each bag on the outside of the gift bag. This came in very handy for me when I started to get many giftbags full of milk. You’ll want to keep your freezer organized as much as possible so that you can quickly rotate your stock as you use the oldest milk
    first and add new milk. To manage this rotation I ordered the giftbags with the oldest milk in the deepest left corner of my horizontal deep freezer, the next bag would be to the right until the back row was full. I would then fill from left to right on the second row. I would stack newer giftbags on top of this bottom row. Hopefully you have an upright deep freezer
    as this rotation process would be MUCH easier with an upright. Either way just be sure to use the oldest milk first. 😊
  10. If you have filled your entire kitchen freezer with milk and are still expecting to pump a lot more go ahead and invest in a deep freezer (imagine how much money you’ll save by not buying formula). It doesn’t have to be new and even if you do get a new one you can find them for pretty cheap. We bought ours on Black Friday for less than $200! Magic Chef 6.9 cubic feet.
  11. As you empty your used milk storage giftbags save the bag to use again for your next batch. Just mark through the old date and add your new one.
  12. Don’t be afraid to give some extra milk away 😇 There’s a lots of local moms that you’ll easily be able to find who will gladly accept your extra milk or you could donate to a milk bank. Either way there’s always a hungry baby out there; what better way to give?! I’ll post more on milk donations in a future post.img_2801

Extended Breastfeeding. Is it Really Necessary?


What is Extended Breastfeeding & What are the Official Recommendations:

Extended breastfeeding is technically breastfeeding past age 1. The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life and breastfeeding while offering solids until at least age 1. The AAP further recommends continuing to nurse as long as mom and baby are willing and interested. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations differ slightly when compared to the AAP. WHO recommendations are similar in that they recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months however they also recommend continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods until age 2 or beyond. So why the differing recommendation on extended breastfeeding? This difference may be due to the lack of availability of high quality protein and nutrients throughout the world. Policy statements from the AAP in 2005 do emphasize the importance of extended breastfeeding even though extended breastfeeding is not included in their main breastfeeding recommendation: “Increased duration of breastfeeding confers significant health and developmental benefits for the child and the mother, especially in delaying return of fertility (thereby promoting optimal intervals between births)… There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologicor developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer”.

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Benefits of Extended Breastfeeding for Baby:

Balanced nutrition. Breast milk is considered the gold standard for infant nutrition. As your baby gets older, the composition of your breast milk will continue to change to meet his or her nutritional needs. There’s no known age at which breast milk is considered to become nutritionally insignificant for a child.

Boosted immunity. As long as you breast-feed, the cells, hormones and antibodies in your breast milk will continue to bolster your baby’s immune system.

Improved health. Research suggests that the longer breast-feeding continues and the more breast milk a baby drinks, the better his or her health might be.

Bonding and Comfort. Nursing plays a big role in providing comfort for some babies and supports positive emotional health. It is a good way for baby to de-stress while bonding with mom. According to research, the most frequently chosen reason for long-term breastfeeding was that breastfeeding was a special time for mother and baby that the mother was not ready to give up.

Benefits of Extended Breastfeeding for Mother:

Reduced risk of certain illnesses. Extended breast-feeding — as well as breast-feeding for 12 months or more cumulatively in life — has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

Improved health. Research suggests that the longer breast-feeding continues and the more breast milk a baby drinks, the better a mother’s health might be.

Are There any Reasons not to Extended Breastfeed?

Fears of a Difficult Weaning Process: This seems to be most moms biggest fear associated with extended breastfeeding, however, this fear is often unsubstantiated. Although it is not always possible, baby led weaning is the easiest method for ending the breastfeeding journey. For some babies this process begins early even as early as 6 month; for other babies self-weaning doesn’t happen until the late toddler years. The worldwide average weaning age is 4.2 years. No matter how old baby is when they are interested in weaning, follow babies lead and be open to requests to nurse as baby gets familiar with the process.

Handling Negative Opinions: Everyone has an opinion; some more supportive than others. Extended breastfeeding is not widely common in the western world and some people don’t mind sharing their negative opinions on the subject. At the end of the day it’s a decision made by you and your immediate family and in the best interests for your particular child; no one can make that decision except for YOU!

Personal Experience:

My daughter is now almost 15 months old and we have been nursing since she was born (except for a month or two when we were exclusively pumping and using bottles…anyways). In the beginning my goal was to nurse her for the whole first year. As with most moms I was very nervous about being able to produce enough milk and to be able to continue producing milk for the entire year. I put in a TON of work up front when she was only a few weeks old to really increase my milk supply by pumping every 2 hours. I was able to store up over 3000 oz of milk in my deep freezer and give away an additional 1000 oz. After awhile I stopped pumping at home and just nursed on demand…it was refreshing. I continued nursing on demand and only pumped 1 time per day during work. I was even lucky enough to be able to visit my daughter during my lunch break daily to nurse. I continued this until she was a year old. 1 year came…and went. We were still nursing on demand and I was 100% okay with it. In fact I think I would have been very sad to stop, not to mention my daughter would probably have been REALLY upset! I stopped pumping all together after 1 year; it really didn’t seem necessary or appealing. The nursing journey continues today. I can tell she is greatly comforted by nursing and sometimes just uses it to be close to me even when she isn’t hungry. As of now I plan to continue nursing her until she is ready to stop (although I’m secretly hoping that she decides to self-wean before age 3).

What’s your experience with extended breastfeeding?

The Sidecar. How to Set it Up. It’s Easy!

For those of you considering trying out co-sleeping but you aren’t 100% sure you’re ready to commit (who could say no to all night snuggles), try the sidecar.

How to:

If you already have a crib the sidecar is super simple. Just break out the screwdriver and take off the front panel of your crib. This should be very straightforward for most cribs as they are designed to take this panel off for replacing with the toddler bed rail. Helpful hint: Don’t lose the screws like I did; you’ll probably need them later 🙂

Now you’re left with a 3 sided crib with a mattress. You might be a little concerned with the slight wobbliness of the 2 short sides…don’t be. Just make sure the rest of your screws are still tight and have faith! My 3 sided crib has not broken despite being swung on by my toddler many times.

Put the crib against the side of your bed with the open portion facing the bed. I have my sidecar adjusted so that the top of the crib is pushed all the way up the bed beside my pillows. This leaves no space for baby to accidentally fall out near the top of the bed. Don’t worry about the portion of the bed past the end of the crib near where your lower legs will be. Baby only crawls down there if they’re trying to get off the bed. Baby will be plenty happy snuggling with you at night. My daughter hasn’t tried to escape the bed at night.

Now you will want to figure out which height setting to use for your crib. Before my baby was a crawler I chose to keep her crib at a height that was about equivalent to the height of my own mattress. This enabled easy transfer of the sleepy head into her own crib if she fell asleep in our bed. After she learned to crawl I quickly moved the crib mattress height to its lowest setting for 2 main reasons: 1.) She was almost able to throw herself over the side rails of the crib at its highest setting 2.) She would crawl in the bed too quickly and without crying for me to pick her up for help; this made me nervous that she would escape and fall off the bed without me ever knowing. Now at the lowest height setting her crib mattress height is about 1 foot lower than our mattress top so she either cries for me to lift her into our bed (usually this happens when she wakes in the middle of the night) or has to climb up on her own (usually only when she’s lightly sleeping during the day). Either way I am 100% aware when she has transitioned to our bed. See pictures below for a comparison of the highest vs lowest crib height settings. Don’t worry if the height of the crib mattress doesn’t perfectly align with the height of your mattress. Now you will need to do 1 of 2 things: 1.) attach the crib frame to the frame of your bed using rope or tight bungees or 2.) push your bed to the closest wall so that the crib is against the wall and your bed is touching the crib. The goal here is to ensure that no gap forms between the crib and your bed. Either method will work. We use the second method; no gaps have occurred to date. Now that your crib frame and height is set up, on to the mattress.

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Crib height at lowest setting; approximately 1 foot below the top of our mattress. Works great for keeping crawlers and walkers a little more contained!

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Crib height at its highest setting. Just an inch or so short of our bed height. Easy access to mommy for little fellas.

At this point you have likely noticed the “gap”. The extra wiggle room between the crib mattress and the crib and/or your bed. Again, do not fear! To fix this “gap” slide the crib mattress so that there is no gap between your mattress and the crib mattress leaving the entire “gap” at the back of the crib. To fill the “gap” I rolled a couple extra bed sheets that I had in my linen closet and stuffed them in the crack. I have read that a lot of moms successfully fill the “gap” with pool noodles. The idea is to choose something that will be safe (not fluffy, no loose pieces, etc.) to fill the “gap”. If you’re worried that baby will be removing the “gap” filler, my baby never once removed the rolled sheets or even seemed to notice that they were there.

Good luck and happy snuggles!!!

hfdvgyya  What is Co-sleeping? Isn’t that Dangerous?

 

MpkaaCo-sleeping is a very controversial topic even amongst crunchiest of folk. There’s also confusion around the word cosleeping itself. You may have also heard of the terms bed-sharing or room sharing adding further to the confusion.

Co-sleeping merely means sleeping close to your baby. Whether that mean the same room, the same corner of a room, or in the same bed. This is the broadest of the three terms.

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The co-sleeping “controversy” is mostly limited to the western world especially here in the US. According to Dr. James McKenna, specialist in mother-infant cosleeping in relationship to breastfeeding and SIDS, “For the overwhelming majority of mothers and babies around the globe today, cosleeping is an unquestioned practice”. He states that in much of southern Europe, Asia, Africa and Central and South America, mothers and babies routinely share sleep. In many cultures, co-sleeping is the norm until children are weaned, and some continue long after weaning.

We are taught here in the US that placing baby on their back in an empty crib to sleep is the safest way for our babies to sleep in order to lower the risk of SIDS. However the issue is that science just doesn’t back up this idea. In the 1970s and 1980s, the rate of infant deaths per 1,000 live births was 1.5; it’s now 0.5. Placing baby to sleep on their back drastically reduced the risk of SIDS, however, there are still 3500 SIDS deaths in the US each year.

The question is are some of these 3500 annual SIDS deaths caused by cosleeping? New research published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in October 2016 states that, based on research, bed-sharing is positively associated with increased SIDS risk while co-sleeping in the same room is negatively associated with SIDS risk.

The AAP also listed recommendations for reducing SIDS risk in order of importance:

  1. Back to sleep
  2. Sleep on firm surface
  3. Breastfeeding is preferred
  4. Infant should sleep on a separate surface BUT close to parents in same room for the first year of life
  5. No loose sheets or toys while sleeping
  6. Use pacifiers
  7. Avoid smoke exposure
  8. Avoid alcohol and drug exposure
  9. Avoid infant overheating and from covering head
  10. Pregnant women should obtain regular prenatal care
  11. Immunize baby according to AAP and CDC recommendations
  12. Don’t use sleep wedges or positioners
  13. Don’t use cardio respiratory monitors to attempt to prevent SIDS
  14. Supervised awake tummy time for baby to strengthen neck

The main issue surrounding bed sharing is the lack of information regarding how to safely bed share. The following are important tips to  keep in mind if you choose to bed share:

  1. Sleep on a firm surface with tight fitting sheets
  2. Keep covers low on the bed and away from baby
  3. Dress baby with the same amount and thickness of clothes as you will wear to sleep. If you are warm in a tee-shirt and shorts baby will be warm in the same. It’s important to keep baby from overheating.
  4. Keep baby away from pillows
  5. Keep baby near mom and away from dad. Mom is more aware of baby’s presence even while sleeping.
  6. Do not drink or do drugs and bed share
  7. Use a safe method to keep baby from rolling off the edge of bed (i.e. toddler bed rails, side car crib etc)

Personal experience:

Before I had my baby I had never even heard of co-sleeping or bed sharing and naturally expected to lay my baby to sleep in her crib and her sleep blissfully through the night after a little practice. Well… that didn’t happen.

I had a pack n play that I received at my baby shower set up with the included bassinet intending for baby to sleep in the bassinet by my bed after coming home from the hospital.

Important note: I was breastfeeding at the hospital but started exclusively pumping as soon as we got home because baby’s latch was not perfected and had caused a great deal of pain and damage to my nipples by the time we left the hospital.

I tried getting baby to sleep in her bassinet but she wouldn’t have it. At most she would sleep 10 minutes and then cry for me to hold her. At that point I was desperate for sleep I knew she wouldn’t sleep in her crib and only wanted me to hold her so I laid slightly reclined in my bed propped up with a couple pillows holding my 7.5 lb baby asleep on me. Lying chest to chest with her little head under my chin and my arms wrapped securely around her we finally slept…amazingly! This continued for a couple weeks. I kept trying to see if she had warmed up to the idea of sleeping alone in the bassinet.. nope (I don’t blame her haha).

During the day I was trying out the Leachco podster, an infant seat lounger that lovingly envelopes baby in an adjustable support. Baby really enjoyed the way it kept her snuggled but she wasn’t lying flat so that she could see what I was doing. I cautiously decided to let her nap in the podster. I had heard positioners and props were bad but this thing was made perfect. Baby couldn’t wiggle to press her face on any part of the lounger. She was stuck in a comfy cloud. She slept like a rock. The podster was then a permanent addition to our pack n play bassinet. This setup worked perfect for us until she reached the bassinet weight limit at about 3.5 months when we started bed sharing.


Leachco Podster Sling-Style Infant Seat Lounger, Sage Pin Dot

The Backstory…

As per usual, I’m trying something new! I would like to share my thoughts and ideas pertaining to mommy-hood with YOU! Some subjects I will cover here include: breastfeeding, pumping, co-sleeping, bed sharing, attachment parenting, baby wearing, and cloth diapers; expect to hear much more about my thoughts and things I have learned about these topics. After reading this list some of my less crunchy mommy friends may say WOAH that doesn’t sound semi-crunchy, that sounds completely crunchy! However as I have learned by reading and talking with mommies encompassing a wide variety of crunchiness I would give myself a crunchy score of 7 (10 being the most crunchy of crunchies).

I have some experience under my belt as I am the proud mother of an almost 15 month old beautiful little girl, however, I am by no means an expert in mommydom and I continue to learn more every day. I am a full-time working mom and my daughter attends a local daycare that she really enjoys (more on this topic to come). I work as a scientist and know just enough about biology and health to help me make better informed decisions pertaining to my little one. On the other hand I am by no means a doctor or complete expert on topics we will discuss and I am always looking to improve. I find myself constantly adding new crunchy ways and adjusting my lifestyle to improve my family’s health. I do wish that I had more time to dedicate to this passion as it is something that I truly enjoy.

I look forward to sharing my adventures with you!

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