Category Archives: breastfeeding

I’m home but I’m not the same

It’s interesting how the things that you cannot really remember like the sounds of the birds, the smells and the way the air feels crisp in the morning are the things that make you feel most at home. However, it’s also a bit weird to live in the homecountry again because we are not the same anymore. Little things that you have to get used to again, like the fact that nobody packs your bags at the grocery store and that it’s so much busier on the streets and in public transportation (whaaaahh there’s bikes everywhere!!).

But also bigger things, because to you, my dear audience, I have always been InBabyAttachMode: somebody with children who is open about the fact that I tandem nurse and sleep in the same bed as my babies. But to my friends and some of my family here, I am still the person who left to go to the US four years ago. This person that I can only vaguely remember that used to have time for drinking, shopping and chatting without having to make sure her child doesn’t drown himself in the nearest pond. Now I am someone who needs to eat dinner at 5.30 to make sure the kids can go to bed early enough that I have an hour for myself (in the best situation) before I go to bed in order to feel relatively rested when BlueEyes wakes up at 5 the next morning.

And maybe this is the most challenging thing about leaving and coming back: to figure out how the new you relates to the people who best remember the old you.

Leave a comment

Filed under attachment parenting, baby, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, cultural differences, observations, travel

So is breast truly NOT best on the long-term?

Yesterday, a new study came out on the long-term effects of breastfeeding. The major limitation of this kind of research is that sociodemographic factors are so intertwined with breastfeeding behavior and long-term outcomes that it is nearly impossible to correct for this statistically. So Cynthia Colen did something smart: she looked at families in which one sibling was breastfed while the other wasn’t and in this way was able to circumvent all the unknown confounding factors. Her results have been highlighted on many news websites because they show that there are virtually no long-term benefits of breastfeeding. The most important findings are explained here by The Skeptical OB.

However, when I read the paper I couldn’t find one important piece of information: how long did these mothers breastfeed for? In this news article it says an average of six months, but those data (and the standard deviation) are nowhere to be found in the paper (or is it me and did someone else find them?!). The authors of the paper do report that there is no correlation between the long-term outcomes and the duration of breastfeeding, but since an average of six months is a lot less than the AAP recommended year, I still wonder if we can draw these conclusions from this study. Another piece of information that I missed is if in the discordant sibling sample, the first sibling was more likely to be breastfed than the second or the other way around. I want to know these things so I can judge this paper better!

An important factor that I’m missing in the current news reporting on this paper is that breastfeeding does seem to have short-term benefits for children and both short- and long-term benefits for mothers (well of course journalists aren’t known for their nuance, but still).

So don’t get me wrong: I think it is super important to have real and reliable data in order to create recommendations for breastfeeding and whether or not we should encourage women to do so. I recognize that starting to breastfeed can be a huge struggle and it is important to have the right information. But I feel that the societal debate that is happening following the publication of this article misses these points A LOT.

 

Reference:

Is Breast Truly Best? Estimating the Effects of Breastfeeding on Long-term Child Health and Wellbeing in the United States Using Sibling Comparisons. Cynthia G Colen, David M Ramey. 2014 Social Science & Medicine, available online Jan 29 2014

15 Comments

Filed under attachment parenting, baby, breastfeeding, maternity leave, parenting, pumping milk

On tandem nursing

A while back, I wrote about finding myself nursing BlueEyes while I was pregnant with Little Brother. I thought that BlueEyes would wean himself when my milk would dry up due to my pregnancy. But that didn’t happen. BlueEyes didn’t seem to care whether there was milk or not, he would just continue to nurse. And the closer I got to Little Brother being born, the less I felt like weaning a toddler who would probably not stop nursing without a fuss. And I didn’t want BlueEyes to get the feeling that he was being replaced by the new baby. So now I find myself tandem nursing a toddler and a newborn.

It’s not that we don’t have certain rules. I taught BlueEyes pretty early on that if he wanted to nurse he wasn’t supposed to pull on my shirt, but he had to sign (before he could talk) or ask to nurse. And a little later, I imposed the rule that I counted back from 5 to 1 and then he had to stop nursing, to stop the endless nursing sessions he would have. And now we have the rule that Little Brother always nurses first (although this is still a hard one for BlueEyes) and that BlueEyes can only nurse in bed, so before and after sleeping.

So yeah, five years ago I didn’t even realize this was a thing: tandem nursing. But it is, and now you know it too.

1 Comment

Filed under baby, breastfeeding, toddler

Homecountry nostalgia: Elfstedentocht

With some pillows and a boppy it’s totally possible to nurse a baby and type on your computer at the same time. However, sometimes being trapped under a nursing and/or sleeping baby is a perfect excuse to watch some tv. Just now I watched this highly recommendable (but not subtitled) homecountry show about the Elfstedentocht in 1997. It nearly made me cry from all the nostalgic feelings. Since 98% of my readers are not from my homecountry, I should probably explain.

The “Elfstedentocht” (eleven cities tour) is an ice-skating event that last happened in 1997. To me that sounds like yesterday, but in reality that’s 17 years ago (crap, that makes me feel kinda old). This event is a 200 km (120 mile) skating tour on natural ice in one of the northern provinces in the homecountry. A province so far away that people even speak their own language. Every year the main question during the winter is whether this epic tour is going to take place or not. Only 16.000 people can skate during this event and the other 16 million inhabitants of the homecountry travel to said province to party and encourage the skaters. But with global warming and such, the last time the ice was thick enough to hold this many people was in 1997. So we nostalgically look back and wonder when the next time will be. In the meantime, there are a bunch of “alternative Elfstedentochten” where people skate 120 miles on ice somewhere else in the world and there’s a host of other Elfstedentochten, where people use rowing boats, bicycles, motor cycles and what not to complete the same route. Yours truly cycled the tour once and rowed it twice (but with rowing it’s a relay race, I should add).

The entire internet could not provide me with a clip with English subtitles but here’s the 1997 finish. Also, this was the winter fashion in 1997. Also quite interesting.

Leave a comment

Filed under breastfeeding, cultural differences

We made a co-sleeper!

Normally, I save all my craftiness for in the lab. When not in the lab, I don’t really enjoy making crafty things, and if I ever attempt, I’m horrible at finishing projects. This is illustrated by the fact that I have several unfinished craft projects in my old room in my parents’ house. Nowadays, I just don’t really try it anymore. But last Friday Dr. BrownEyes and I did a very crafty thing: we made a co-sleeper from our IKEA Somnat crib and our IKEA Malm bed. Ours is not as fancy as this example from a slightly different crib, but I’m still very proud of the result.
We used this equation:

The Malm bed.
 +
The crib that BlueEyes used for maybe 2 months, after which we realized we kept walking back and forth and he kept ending up in our bed anyway.
 =
A huge bed, so prospective baby can co-sleep safely.

In short, we removed the side of the crib (which is a feature this crib already has), we elevated the crib with wooden blocks and since the Malm bed has a wooden edge next to the mattress, when elevated just enough, the crib mattress can lay on that wooden edge and align nicely with the big mattress. We pushed the crib against the wall and the bed against the crib and will fill the hole on the left in the crib with rolled-up towels, so the two mattresses are snug against each other.

1 Comment

Filed under attachment parenting, breastfeeding, pregnancy

When do you stop pumping milk at work?


A while back I wrote about pumping milk at work and the other day I got an email from a reader asking me the following:

Hi Babyattachmode,
I came across your blog while looking for some guides to breastfeeding and pumping at work. I am about to go back to work as a postdoc, and I’m wondering whether it is possible to not pump at work at all and will my milk supply go down if I skip my work pump. Any advice is appreciated!
Best [anonymous]

Even though I’m not a lactation consultant, I do have some experience and heard a lot of advice and experiences from women around me, so I told her this:

It really depends on the age of your baby and on your supply. For most women, their milk supply starts to be stable between 9 months and a year. So if you baby is older than 9 months, I think you should be okay not pumping at work and just nursing him at home. However, if your baby is younger than that, I think not pumping will affect your supply and it’s up to you how much you don’t want that. If you’re okay with your supply dropping and slowly moving over to formula, then you can do it and any breastmilk he gets from you is something of course! However, if you plan to nurse longer and your baby is younger than 9 months, I wouldn’t advice not pumping at work.
Another thing to consider is your own comfort. When I stopped pumping when my son was 1 year, I still got pretty engorged at the end of a workday and had my handpump in my office to relieve the pressure on days when it got too bad. I’m sure my breasts could not have handled an 8+ hour workday without pumping in the first year, but I know this is different for different women too.
A last thing to add is that for me, pumping was not that much work. It’s another thing to add to your routine, but I was usually done within 15 minutes per session, and I pumped twice a day. I had an extra set of tubing and breastshields so that I didn’t have to wash those in between pumping sessions for example.

To which she replied that her baby was 9 months and that she had pumped twice daily since she went back to work when her baby was 2 months.
So I told her:

When your baby is already nine months, you’re likely going to be okay not pumping and continuing to nurse. I dropped one pumping session at 9 months and the other at 12, but you might be okay just not pumping during the day. Just see how it goes and if your supply drops dramatically you can always decide to continue pumping for a couple more weeks/months and then try again. For a while I pumped during breakfast to have an extra bottle and leave home with empty breasts for the day (especially when BlueEyes decided not to nurse a lot in the morning).

I thought I’d post this conversation on my blog too, as it might be helpful to others too!

2 Comments

Filed under breastfeeding, parenting, pumping milk, working mom

On breastfeeding while pregnant.


Before BlueEyes was born I knew I wanted to give breastfeeding a try, but I didn’t have any particular goals in mind. I first wanted to see how things went and if I could even do it. Shortly after he was born he started nursing and it went surprisingly well. I was very lucky and never really had any problems. No clogged ducts, no mastitis, no nipples that were hurting. It was all smooth sailing. 
Before I had BlueEyes, I thought nursing a toddler, let alone a bigger kid, was a bit weird. I guess it doesn’t help that you rarely see people do it. But your own child becomes a toddler very gradually. So slow that you almost don’t realize that he’s not a little baby anymore. So there is no one day when all of a sudden he is a toddler and you ‘have to’ stop nursing. I’m still breastfeeding BlueEyes, because I really don’t see a good reason not to. What I didn’t realize before is that after about a year you can stop pumping at work, because your breasts slowly turn from milk storage units to milk making units (i.e. you make the most milk during a feeding instead of throughout the day). BlueEyes nurses shortly when we come home from daycare, he nurses (a lot) before he goes to bed, and then when he wakes up at night he nurses to fall back to sleep easily. And he nurses when he’s really upset and angry and when that is really the only way to get him to calm down.

And now I’m pregnant and again, before I had BlueEyes I didn’t even realize that that was a thing: breastfeeding while you’re pregnant. Well, it is. And now you know it too ;-).

10 Comments

Filed under attachment parenting, breastfeeding, pregnancy, pumping milk, sleep