Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday 5

A round-up of the top 5 breastfeeding stories in the news.

A woman and her boyfriend are arrested after an Eckerds employee finds pictures of the couple's toddler nursing to be "suspicious." The kids have been taken away. Don't mess with Texas?

A third of moms stop breastfeeding within 7 weeks of returning to work. Is this shocking to anyone?

Two new bills in California: one would require HMOs and insurance companies to cover lactation consultant visits and the cost of breast pumps; the other requires employers to provide break time for pumping.

The University of North Carolina Greensboro is hosting a symposium on breastfeeding and feminism with some really interesting sounding presentations.

A mom is suing the Olive Garden because she claims they forced her to pump at work in view of a manager and called pumping "disgusting."

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Toxins in breast milk: cause for concern?

The Motherwear Breastfeeding blog has an excellent post today about toxins in breast milk and why they shouldn't be a concern. Unfortunately a recent survey showed that 78-93% of women would stop breastfeeding if they found out there were phthalates in their breast milk. African-American moms were significantly more likely than Caucasian women to report that they would wean immediately if told of toxins in their milk.

Despite the fact that toxins have been found in breast milk, the benefits of nursing far outweigh any danger toxins may pose. Tanya breaks the issue down nicely. It's good to remember that formula also contains toxins and there have been formula recalls, even in the United States.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

MilkBank storage system winner!

Thank you to all who entered the MilkBank storage system give away! I selected the winner using and the winner is

cool crafty mom!

Check your email! If you don’t see an email from me, look in your spam folder in case my email landed there. You must email me your full name and mailing address by Wednesday, February 25, 2009, to claim your prize or another winner will be selected. Thanks again everyone!

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

LIFE Photo archive

Did you know that Google is hosting a photo archive from LIFE magazine? The archive contains millions of photographs, stretching from the 1750s to the present day. If you haven't seen it, please go take a look.

This afternoon I did a search for some historical breastfeeding pictures and look at what I found.

1937, Moms breastfeeding their children at a rural hospital, Greenville, MS

1937, Mom breastfeeding her baby as she waits to see a doctor at a rural hospital, Greenville, MS.

1956, Mother feeding her baby, Myanmar

1960, Kurdi mother nursing, Israel

1968, Fruit vendor nursing baby, Mexico

These photos are amazing in their ordinariness. Breastfeeding was just a part of life in the past, and no cause for anyone to bat an eyelash, even if a man is photographing you for a magazine as you nurse your baby. Amazingly, Time magazine chose this photo for its April 12, 1999 cover to illustrate the crisis facing ethnic Albanians in Yugoslavia..

1999, Mother nursing while fleeing Albania with other refugees

Yet seven years later, this cover of baby talk magazine caused an uproar

What are we doing wrong? Why do we seem to be moving backwards?

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Black Woman's Guide to Breastfeeding: Review & Giveaway

Looking for a book on breastfeeding that directly speaks to the specific concerns of African-American moms? Well, there is exactly ONE currently on the market. Sad, I know. Luckily, it's a great resource on breastfeeding that offers a ton of information, great advice and pictures in an easy to read format. That book is Kathi Barber's The Black Woman's Guide to Breastfeeding: The Definitive Guide to Nursing for African American Mothers.

What I love about this book is that it clearly explains why breastfeeding is best for both mom and baby and doesn't assume the reader has already planned to nurse. Unfortunately, many moms of color need an extra push to even attempt breastfeeding and this books clearly spells out the benefits of breast milk and breastfeeding to both mom and baby. Ms. Barber understands the special circumstances that African-American moms often face, so she includes chapters on why fathers are so important for a successful breastfeeding relationship and why dad should be supporting of nursing; the heritage of breastfeeding in the black community and why we need to reembrace nursing; and the barriers that black moms face and how we can overcome them.

This tiny book packs a ton of information! Everything from breastfeeding basics to solutions to the most common problems during breastfeeding and how to manage nursing when you return to work or school. Advice on pumping and milk storage, pictures and drawings of the various nursing positions and good latch, as well as stories from real moms interspered throughout. It even includes breastfeeding laws by state (which is a bit out of date since the book was published in 2005) and resources for more information.

The only con, in my opinion, is that Ms. Barber doesn't urge African-American moms to delay solids until the age of 6 months. I know that many people believe you should "watch the baby, not the calendar," but black people have a tradition of starting solids entirely too early. Although the book cautions that if you start solids at 3 months you should go slowly, I would have liked her to advise against it completely. Although I disagree with her, perhaps Ms. Barber thought she would lose her readers if she was too insistent on ONLY breast milk for the first 6 months, fearing people would disregard the other good advice in the book because waiting so long to start solids is almost unthinkable in the black community.

Overall, I really love this book and I have given it as a gift to friends and now I have a copy to give to one of my readers! Just leave me a comment telling me if you'd keep the book for yourself or gift it to a friend.

This giveaway ends next Sunday, March 1 at 11:59 pm (eastern time). US mail addresses only, please. And please make sure your profile is public or add your email address to your comment so I have a way of contacting you if you win. Winners will be announced on Blacktating and via email.

If you'd like to learn more about Kathi Barber, please go listen to the wonderful interview she gave to Tanya at the Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog.

You can also check out her organization, the African American Breastfeeding Alliance, or her advice column on Mothering Magazine's website.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Breastfeeding staves off symptoms of MS

A new study shows that women with multiple sclerosis may reduce their risk of relapse by breastfeeding. It is well known that women with MS tend to find relief from their symptoms during pregnancy, but new research shows the same to be true of breastfeeding.
Of the women in the study, just over half chose not to breastfeed, many because they wanted to resume taking their MS medication which is not compatible with nursing. However, the study found that women who did not breastfeed were more than twice as likely to have a relapse as those who chose to nurse, even if they were taking their medication.

R&B singer Tamia, who is married to NBA star Grant Hill, has been vocal about having MS. In a recent interview with People magazine after the birth of her second daughter, Tamia said, "[Pregnancy hormones] actually help minimize the symptoms," Tamia says of MS, a chronic disease affecting the nervous system. "I was so happy to tell everyone that I felt great ... that MS doesn't mean a death sentence."

Although she didn't discuss whether or not she breastfed, the Hills are co-sleepers. "Myla likes to sleep in bed with us, and [their Maltese] Sweetie sleeps at the foot," says Hill. "When Lael gets bigger and starts wanting to sleep in bed with us, it's going to be really crowded. And if we have another baby, we're going to need a bigger bed—or one of the kids will be sleeping down at the foot of the bed with Sweetie!"

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Motherwear's Spring Line is Here!

Motherwear's Spring collection is now available!

I'm posting some of my favorite new items here, and you can see all of the new designs at Motherwear.

This beautiful top would look great dressed up for work with slacks and a multi-strand necklace. Or wear it dressed-down, as shown, with jeans and silver bangle bracelets.

This eco-friendly bamboo top would be great for a spring day at the park. I love the empire waist, which is so flattering on a new mom!

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Guest post at Now What Baby!

I have a guest post up today at Now What Baby! There are a couple of guest bloggers featured and everyone is discussing her must-have mom product. Please visit the site and leave a comment on my post. The post with the most comments will win a small prize. Also, you'll get to see what I look like! Enjoy.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

February Carnival of Breastfeeding: Do It Yourself!

Welcome to this month's Carnival of Breastfeeding!

This month's theme is how to save money while breastfeeding. Now, we all know you'll save a ton of money just by breastfeeding alone, but here are a couple more ways you can save while nursing-- if you do it yourself.

Now, I personally could not live without my breastfeeding pillow (I still use it 14 months later) but the extra covers are pricey. I am not crafty at all, but even I could manage to make a DIY cover. For the cost of about 2 yards of fabric, you can have a beautiful cover that reflects your personality. I like these instructions.

When you're pumping at work, it's difficult to hold the horns and do anything else at all, which is why a lot of moms buy specialty pumping bras. But you can rig up a regular nursing bra so that you can pump hands-free with a couple of rubber bands.

If you are not really separated from your baby often, you can skip purchasing a pump and learn the fine art of hand expression. The Marmet Technique takes some practice, but some moms get just as much milk by hand as they do by pumping!

Another way to save some cash is to skip all of the various nursing covers. Simply pull your shirt down to cover your breast and position baby across your body to cover your tummy. Practice in front of the mirror before leaving the house. If you can eschew the cover, you'll also help normalize breastfeeding in public.

Want some more tips on how to save big while nursing? Check out the other posts in this month's carnival.

The Motherwear Breastfeeding blog: Home remedies for breastfeeding problems
Mama's WorldWide: How to make a regular bra into a nursing bra
Milk Act: How breastfeeding taught me to be more frugal
Hobo Mama: How to save on nursing accessories
Breastfeeding 1-2-3: How to make homemade Pedialyte
Zen Mommy: How I save while breastfeeding
Breastfeeding Mums Blog: Alternative uses for breast milk

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Review & Giveaway: MilkBank storage system

When I first heard about the MilkBank breast milk storage system, I couldn't get over how awesome and smart the idea was: vacuum-sealing breast milk to preserve the taste and nutrients during storage, plus adding an insulated outer bottle to keep the milk warm throughout the feeding. Man, why wasn't this on the market 9 months ago when I first went back to work and was pumping 4 times a day?

When I was given the opportunity to test and review the system, I was totally giddy and couldn't wait to try it out. I pumped a few ounces of milk and then used the vacuum pump to remove all of the air from the storage container and into the freezer it went. The next day, I stuck the container in a cup of warm water. I have to say, I could tell a difference in the flavor of my defrosted milk. It was closer to the taste of freshly expressed milk than usual. (Sometimes breastfed babies will refuse bottled milk and often it is because the taste of the milk is off. This system remedies that.)

I then added some warm water to the insulating bottle, stuck the defrosted milk inside and added the nipple and air vent attachment. The insulating bottle keeps the milk warm throughout the feeding and the air vent attachment helps to reduce the amount of air the baby swallows.
Did you know that a recent study found that babies thrive better when they are served warm milk? Well, the creators of the MilkBank system did, which is why they added in the insulating bottle. So smart! (and this is probably another reason breast milk is superior's always at the optimal temperature!)

The nipple that comes with the system is shaped so that baby is forced to keep a wide open latch, which makes it easier to go back and forth from breast to bottle. Another bonus is that the entire system is BPA, phthalate and PVC-free so you can feel good about using it for your baby.

My only complaints about the system is that the bottles have a lot of parts, and if not assembled just so, the bottle will leak. They claim the system is guaranteed leak-proof, but if I could manage to mess it up, I am sure another mom could, too. And any nursing mom can tell you how awful it is to realize your bottle is leaking and wasting your precious milk! The package I received also came with an 8 oz feeding bottle with a stage 2 nipple for "the older baby." I really believe breastfeeding infants should use a stage 1 or "slow flow" or "newborn" nipple regardless of age. The flow of the stage 2 nipple was entirely too fast for my 14 month old and he choked on the milk. The stage 1 nipple was perfect, though.

The makers of MilkBank have generously offered to give one of my readers the MilkBank storage system and an extra bottle. The gift includes:

1 vacuum pump
3 vacuum storage caps
1 2.5 oz storage/feeding bottle
2 5 oz storage/feeding bottles
1 outer insulating bottle with stage 1 nipple & dome
1 8 oz bottle with stage 2 nipple

To enter the giveaway, leave me a comment telling me why you do or plan on pumping. Because this is such a great giveaway, I am going to offer everyone FOUR extra entries!

1. Follow me on Twitter. I'm blacktating
2. Tweet this giveaway
3. Subscribe to my blog
4. Follow my blog

Please leave a separate comment for each of your entries. The contest is open to US mailing addresses only. Winners will be selected by The contest closes on Monday, February 23rd at midnight (eastern time). The winner will be announced via email and on Blacktating. The winner will have until Wednesday, February 25th to claim the prize or another winner will be selected. Good luck!

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Nervous much?

Jerry O'Connell was on Ellen and talked about his wife, Rebecca Romijn, who is nursing their twin daughters. I think his level of anxiety just talking about his wife nursing is indicative of why breastfeeding is still so taboo. He realizes it's a perfectly natural act, yet wonders if he can even talk about it on daytime television!

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Close the milk gap

You've probably heard of the "wage gap," the "trade gap" and the "digital divide." Now the Huffington Post is blogging about the "milk gap," the vast difference between the urging of the medical community that women breastfeed exclusively for 6 months and continue throughout the first year of baby's life and the realities of our world that make this almost impossible for many new moms.

The author says:

Most babies have a milk deficit: they breastfeed for less than one year. Fortunate moms minimize the deficit by crafting extended paid leaves from work by taking what paid time off they have accrued all at once (for example, maternity leave plus sick days plus vacation days). Other mothers utilize on-site day care, which allows them to break from work to breastfeed. Still others bring their infants to work. Flexible schedules sometimes permit moms to work at home or part-time -- thereby enabling them to nurse their babies while resuming wage work responsibilities. And some moms resort to breast pumps to allow others to feed their babies' the precious mother's milk.
Yet no matter how hard mothers try to close the milk gap, they are left in nearly an impossible situation, trying to meet the twelve-month medical guideline by individually cobbling together a strategy that works perhaps for awhile, staving off guilt about how much milk and breast -- and what they together and separately offer -- their babies and they themselves need.

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Quote of the Day

Access Hollywood's Shaun Robinson to M.I.A. on the red carpet: "You are due TODAY. Does anyone know how to deliver a baby?!"

M.I.A.: "I'm going to deliver him."

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Attachment parenting, breastfeeding and......hip hop?

Hey, it's February and that means it's Black History Month! In honor of the month that celebrates the contributions of black folks to this great country of ours, I'm going to be posting more articles that are specifically about African-American culture over the next few weeks.

The other day I was thinking about how often Similac gets name-checked in rap lyrics (seriously, it must be the Gucci of the formula world) and so I wanted to see if I could find some hip-hop and R&B lyrics that mention breastfeeding or attachment parenting. I didn't come up with many, but I really love the ones that I did find. Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-check it out!

Then I breathe, just like the wind the breeze that blows

And I grow, just like a baby breastfeeding

And it`s beautiful, that`s life and that`s life
Erykah Badu, “Humble Mumble

You know them hospitals all trying to get paid, no questions

hear come the doctors with they drugs, trying to do c-sections

But my baby stays strong, in labor for yay long

eight-pound baby boy, to carry my name on, joy!
Talib Kweli, “Joy”

While y'all drink the similac

My rhymes are breast-fed

No artificial nipples

I flip the real skills

I thought I told you once

I kick the lyrical windmills
Jurassic 5, “Concrete school yard

I kick more game than a crackhead from Hempstead

My styles are milk, man, you'd think that I was breast fed
A Tribe Called Quest, “God lives through”

Let me kick it most importantly trick-nology

Leave that similac alone, breast feed your seeds 

The gift of motherhood, you pass on your antibodies 

Defense against sickness, unwanted virus 

Realize we came to this land by savage pirates
Afu-Ra “Self Mastery”

You probably breastfed

'Cause you look
all healthy
Me’Shell Ndegeocello, “Pocketbook”

So do you guys know of any other tunes that celebrate breastfeeding or any of the other principles of attachment parenting? Please leave them in the comments! Even if they're not in the genre of hip-hop or R&B, I'd love to hear of any other songs that mention nursing.

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Contest Winner!

Thank you to all who entered the latest giveaway! I selected the winner using the Random Sequence Generator at

Out of 28 entries, the winner of The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk is

#22 abookworm

Check your email! If you don’t see an email from me, look in your spam folder in case my email landed there. You must email me your full name and mailing address by Thursday, February 12, 2009, to claim your prize or another winner will be selected. Thanks again everyone!

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Can you pick just one?

I have a few friends who are currently pregnant with their first child. Being the person I am, of course I am going to be the one gifting the breastfeeding accessories! I think a really good breastfeeding book is important. Moms who plan to breastfeed need to do their research before giving birth so that they understand what to expect when they bring that bundle of joy home. Everyone tells you how exhausted you'll be and how your house will fall apart, but people don't talk to you about the best position for nursing a newborn or how many dirty diapers you should look for each day.

I remember going to the book store and spending hours perusing the nursing books and agonizing over which one to buy. I had heard raves at my childbirth class about The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, but I finally ended up picking Bestfeeding: How to Breastfeed Your Baby, which I loved.

So if you had to go to a shower and could pick just one breastfeeding book to give to a pregnant friend, which one would it be?

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Salma Hayek opens up about weaning, cross-nursing

In an interview with USA Today, Salma Hayek discusses the process of weaning her daughter Valentina and how she came to cross-nurse. Salma insists previous reports that she was "addicted" to nursing were exaggerated and that she stopped breastfeeding her daughter months ago (Valentina is now 17 months old). She says:

"We were two weeks off, and then she grabbed it again. One time she asked me for it and I said no. It was so easy. I explained to her why. She looked at me and she understood. She kissed me and that was it," she says. "I underestimated my child. It's the best thing somebody can do for their child. (But) you have to know when to stop."

Although I personally believe in allowing a child to self-wean, I love that Salma was such a vocal proponent of nursing the entire time she breastfed Valentina. I do believe if you're going to end the nursing relationship with your child, it's best to wean gradually, for both baby and mom. Weaning abruptly can cause plugged ducts and mastitis for mom, as well as behavioral problems in the child. Nursing is so much more than just food, especially for toddlers. It's comfort, love and satisfies a baby's intense need to suck.

Before weaning Valentina, Salma actually breastfed another baby while in Africa. She was visiting a clinic as part of her work with UNICEF and Pampers to provide tetanus shots when she saw a woman struggling to nurse her baby.

"The baby was perfectly healthy, but the mother didn't have milk. He was very hungry. I was weaning Valentina, but I still had a lot of milk that I was pumping, so I breast-fed the baby," she says. "You should have seen his eyes. When he felt the nourishment, he immediately stopped crying."

This is such a beautiful and selfless act. I am not sure how many of us could or would nurse another woman's child or allow another woman to nurse our own. The idea of cross-nursing used to weird me out, but the more I think about it, the more I think it is such a generous thing to do. Salma is winning me over again.

UPDATE: There is actual video of Salma nursing the baby. The whole piece is a tear jerker, so be forewarned.

Salma cross nursing

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Breastfeeding on Mr. Rogers

Did you see the gem from Mr. Rogers that the Motherwear Breastfeeding blog dug up? Facebook execs would be gagging if they saw this!


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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Participate in a breastfeeding study

Are you currently a breastfeeding mother? Would you like to participate in a breastfeeding study? The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog lists several research studies involving nursing moms, including a study of induced lactation, herbs as milk supply boosters and moms of preemies who have low milk supply.

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A healthy baby begins with you

Above is a video produced by the Department of Health's Office on Minority Health, starring Tonya Lewis Lee, wife of Spike Lee. The statistics offered are sobering: black babies die at three times the rate of white babies in their first year of life.
Of course there are many ways to lower this number, including those mentioned in the video. Many black women don't get pre-natal care and aren't aware of the new recommendations that babies be put "back to sleep." But what about breastfeeding? Why wasn't this mentioned in the video as a way to save the lives of black babies? Not only does breastfeeding pass on mother's immunity to her infant, but it also provides a lifetime of health benefits to baby. We know that the risk for diseases and conditions like obesity, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes, heart disease and asthma are lower in people who have been breastfed and that these conditions affect the African-American community at a higher rate than any other.
I know Ms. Lee and the creators of this campaign are aware of the benefits of breastfeeding because during a recent event in Brooklyn, NY she spoke about the benefits of breastfeeding to both mothers and babies.
But more people will see this campaign than will attend a speaking engagement in Brooklyn. It seems sort of silly to not include breastfeeding in this PSA. I'm glad the Health Department is working on this very important issue, but I am disappointed with this effort.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

How to avoid baby formula

There's a really funny article in Gourmet magazine that discusses the hard work one foody put in to keep her son from having to have formula.

From the article:

I became a permanent resident, as my husband would tell me, of Crazy Town. I called the lactation consultant every day during her office hours, breaking into cold sweats on Saturdays, the only day when, as an orthodox Jew, she didn’t take calls. I talked to friends who had successfully breastfed and obsessed over the details. “He only swallows once per five sucks!” I said to my friend Laura over lunch with our babies. “What’s Anna’s suck-to-swallow ratio??” “Uh, I’m not…sure…” she said, eyeing me like you might look at someone holding you hostage.

Read the rest here.

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Twittering during labor?

In the 90s people videotaped the birth of their children, but in the new millennium we have Twitter! Singer Erykah Badu and her boyfriend Jay Electronica twitted her entire labor yesterday, culminating in the home birth of their child, a baby girl. Erykah claims they named the baby Twitty Milk. She's joking......I hope. But can you ever be sure with a woman whose other kids are named Seven and Puma?

"Labor has begun," Electronica Tweeted. "Everybody stand back. No hospitals. No doctors. No medicine. We're waiting for the midwife to show."

How wonderful is that? Whatever she names the kid, I have to give Ms. Badu props. She is an extended nurser and believes and practices natural and attachment parenting. Twitty Milk is hilarious, but it lets everyone know that she is breastfeeding and just how important breast milk is.

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Review: The Breastfeeding Mother's Guide to Making More Milk

Breastfeeding is one of the most natural, beautiful and fulfilling things you can do as a mother, but as wonderful as it is, breastfeeding isn't easy for everyone. In fact, studies have shown that despite almost 75% of moms breastfeeding their newborns when they leave the hospital, the number drops dramatically to about 31% at 3 months postpartum and a paltry 11% at 6 months. The No. 1 reason women seem to give when asked why they stopped nursing is, "I wasn't making enough milk."
It used to be conventional wisdom that the overwhelming majority of women will make enough milk for their babies. Research had shown that very few women truly didn't make much milk, with estimates ranging from the conservative 2% to the generally more accepted 5% of the population. So why all of the perceived problems with milk supply? Could they possibly be real?
Well, it turns out, yes! A new book, The Breastfeeding Mother's Guide to Making More Milk, discusses all of the various issues that can cause low milk supply and offers advice on how to tackle each.

The authors, who are both board certified lactation consultants, have come up with an equation that details all of the components necessary for good milk supply.

Sufficient glandular tissue
+ Intact nerve pathways and ducts
+Adequate hormones and hormone receptors
+ Adequately frequent and efficient milk removal and stimulation

If any part of the equation is missing, your milk supply can suffer! This book describes in great detail how your body makes milk and how can you determine if your baby is getting enough milk. It will help you determine whether or not you truly have a problem with low milk supply or if your baby is not adequately removing milk or if you're simply misconstruing common infant behaviors. The book clearly explains the normal behavior of breastfed babies, including cluster feeding and evening fussiness and some commonly misinterpreted maternal indicators (for example, if you don't pump much, it doesn't necessarily mean you don't have much milk).

Once you have identified the causes of your low supply, the book offers tons of concrete and effective methods for maximizing supply. It will also outline how you can supplement without damaging your breastfeeding relationship with your baby. For example, if you're supplementing with formula, you probably nurse and then offer baby a bottle to "top him off." The authors suggest doing just the opposite: offer baby a supplemental bottle, but finish the feeding at the breast so your baby associates breastfeeding with feeling full and satisfied, not the bottle.

I would highly recommend this book to pregnant and new moms, as well as moms who believe they have low milk supply. There is a lot of information covered here about how milk is made and the many ways moms unwittingly damage their supply that you don't find in other breastfeeding books. The authors also understand that supplementing may be necessary and don't make moms feel guilty about it. In fact, they insist that your baby be fed until satisfied because a hungry, frustrated baby is that much harder to get back to the breast.

Interested in reading more? The book is available on Amazon for $12.50.

WIN IT! Win a copy of The Breastfeeding Mother's Guide to Making More Milk. Simply leave a comment on this post telling me why you would like to own this book. Entries must be received by Sunday, February 8th at midnight (eastern time). One winner will be selected at random using US mailing addresses only. I will notify the winner on February 9th both at Blacktating and by email. The winner will have until February 12, 2009, to get back to me with a postal mailing address for shipping or another winner will be selected.

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