Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Freestyle Breast Pump Review

by Guest Blogger, Elizabeth S., Huntsville, AL

The Medela Freestyle

BACKGROUND:  I am a working mother with a 6 month old.  I pump 3-4 times (30 minutes-1 hr sessions) during the workday and breastfeed 3-5 times a night and all the time on the weekends.  I do not have an over-abundant milk supply, but when breastfeeding exclusively my supply is fine.  I rented a Symphony breast pump for 2 months after my son was born, then switched to the Freestyle a week before I went back to work at 2 months postpartum.   I pumped at work using the Freestyle exclusively for 4 months.  I purchased the Freestyle from a big-box retailer after consulting only online reviews.  At the time I purchased the pump, I didn’t know any lactation consultants or working mothers who pumped, and purely from a research standpoint, the Freestyle sounded like the workhorse I was looking for.  Luckily, between the time I purchased the Freestyle, and the time I needed to use it, I discovered A Nurturing Moment and their team of lactation consultants, so when I had problems, I knew where to start looking for answers. 

RECOMMENDATION: I DO NOT recommend purchasing Medela’s Freestyle Breast Pump. 

“It’s like pumping with a jackhammer.”

The membranes, connectors, and backplates are easy to clean (much easier than the Pump-In-Style or
The Freestyle is intended to simplify pumping.
Symphony) and do not extend into the collection bottles, allowing collection of more milk.  The pump is highly portable, small, lightweight, rechargeable (up to 6 hrs of pumping on one charge of the battery, but you have to plug it in whenever you’re not using it), can function plugged into the wall outlet if desired, hands-free (I used the Simple Wishes pumping bra instead of the hands-free adapter kit), has a decent way to secure the pump to your waist,  never got moisture in the tubing, can do single or double pumping, and I loved the included timer and memory button that would remember and repeat your last pumping session.  I really wish I could recommend this pump, because the pros were awesome.

With each suck, serious vibration that is part of normal Freestyle pump operation is transferred directly to your breasts.  Over time, this caused me recurring breast tissue irritation, swelling, pain, and damage to my skin.  The pump did not fully empty my breasts at the highest setting I could tolerate (Level 4), which caused me to have issues with engorgement and severe difficulty pumping out enough milk to feed my son.  The only way I could handle the vibration somewhat was to slather myself with Lanolin before every pumping session, but all the symptoms above still occurred.  Medela doesn’t make the SoftFit breastshields that come with this pump in any size besides Medium, does not sell any as spare parts, and I could not use the PersonalFit breastshields (Medela’s regular breastshields) with this pump because they made the vibration issue ten times worse.  The pump is also extremely pricey and twice as loud (at least) as the Pump-In-Style or the Symphony.  I would place the Freestyle on the arm of my chair or on the table and feel the vibration throughout my body.  I changed from the Freestyle to the Symphony, and in the same session where I usually got 5 ounces with the Freestyle, I collected 7 ounces using the Symphony (time of day, pumping duration, and all other variables being equal – I ran this comparison the very next day, so the Symphony hadn’t had time to increase my milk production any). 

PURCHASING TIPS – ITEMS TO CONSIDER:  When you purchase a breast pump, give some thought to the customer service.  I didn’t, and now I’m out ~$400 for the pump, $120 for the connectors, membranes, and backplates, had 4 months of pain and stress, and almost lost my milk twice.  (I just hope there’s no long term damage.)  If you’re a working mother, an inadequate pump can sabotage your breastfeeding relationship with your child.  And the danger can be subtle – it took me a month to figure out what was going on after I realized there was a problem somewhere.  Yes, prices are higher at A Nurturing Moment than at the big-box or online retailers, but there is absolutely no substitute for Glenni’s customer service!  If you want Glenni and her team of lactation consultants to be around to help you with your breast pump and breastfeeding accessory purchases and concerns and problems in the future, then buy things from her today.  Or support your local breastfeeding accessory store and lactation consultants if you don’t live in the Huntsville, AL area.  And no, Glenni didn’t (and won’t) pay me to say that.  It’s just common sense.  Consider the following:
  • Will the sales personnel at the retailer where you plan to purchase your breast pump know anything about pumping, about combination breastfeeding and pumping, or about the problems you might encounter? 
  • Can your retailer show you how to set up and use your pump?  Yes, I know pumps come with instruction manuals, but I had no idea if my pump was working right after I put it together – it made strange noises, and was awkward, and I had no idea if the breastshields were a good fit.  I needed some hands-on help.  You might too. 
  • Does your retailer have lactation consultants on staff you can consult with when you have issues? 
  • Will your retailer try and sell you a pump that will meet your personal needs after some discussion with you, or will they just sell you anything? 
  • Can you swing by your retailer for help when something’s not working, and physically show them what’s wrong?  Some problems can only be demonstrated. 
  • Can your retailer’s lactation consultants provide an informed opinion on whether your problems are caused by your pump, your baby’s suck pattern or latch, your diet, an infection, etc., and provide educated guidance on how to fix them? 
Surely it’s worth the extra few bucks to keep A Nurturing Moment or your local breastfeeding accessory store and lactation consultants in business. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

What a Mom Wants...What a Mom Needs

As you read that title, think Christina Aguilera....

I see expectant moms every day here at A Nurturing Moment. We sell all sorts of cool things from baby slings and soft-structured carriers to cloth diapers to amazing products for breastfeeding mothers. We have post-partum belly wraps and snot-suckers. We have Baby Legs and Baltic Amber teething necklaces. And I am really thankful for the wonderful moms who shop with us and make up the ANM family.

But when it really comes right down to it, you don't actually NEED a lot of things for baby. You need loving arms and a heart full of love....of course, breasts that produce a lot of milk don't hurt either! However, there are two very important items that I think are pretty essential for new moms. In fact, I have them both prominently displayed within feet of each other in my store.

1.  A comfortable place to nurse your baby.
You will spend hours every day nursing your little one. You need a place that will provide you comfortable support for your back and arms when you are nursing. You don't have to have a boppy or special pillow (although it is nice to have one), but you at least need a firm bed pillow to support baby at your breast. Your nursing chair needs to have plenty of room for you and your pillow, and it needs to have comfortable arms that give you a place to rest your arms.

We sell the StoryTime Collection from Best Chairs. Made in Indiana, these chairs offer superior quality and workmanship at affordable prices. We always have several chairs available for sale on the floor, or you can order a chair in the fabric of your choosing, and receive it within 8 weeks. If you would like to take a look at the options available, check out the design center.

2.  A safe place for baby to sleep right next to your bed.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants sleep in a separate but proximate sleep environment. This means they need to be in your room as close as possible to you without being in your bed. The Arm's Reach Co-sleeper actually attaches to your bed and allows your baby to sleep right next to your bed, making it easy to nurse baby during the night. Available as either a mini-co-sleeper or a full size co-sleeper, it allows mothers who really don't want to sleep with baby in the bed or who don't have a firm mattress to enjoy the many benefits of proximate sleep.

We sell the full range of Arm's Reach products. You can order your co-sleeper and will generally receive it within a couple of weeks.

Whatever Makes You Happy

I asked our moms what two things they would say a new mom needs. Here are some of the top suggestions
  • A good support network - suggestions included friends who breastfeed, an encouraging husband, an older experienced mom to babysit and a lactation consultant. 
  • A baby carrier to wear your baby; several moms specified a ring sling.
  • Somewhere comfy and quiet to nurse
  • Foods and snacks that can be eaten with one hand
  • A fridge stocked with water
What would you add to this list? Leave a comment with your input!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

How to Know if Your Baby's Doctor is Breastfeeding Friendly

This week the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine released a revised protocol  for Breastfeeding Friendly Physicians Offices.  This document offers physicians 19 suggestions that they can implement to ensure that their practice is breastfeeding friendly. Many of the physicians in the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine are also International Board Certified Lactation Consultants

I asked a colleague who happens to be a pediatrician as well as a lactation consultant to pen a guest blog  on this topic. The ABM protocol is great, but it's really written specifically for physicians, not for moms. I thought it would be good for our moms to know what to look for when they are doctor shopping!

Wish List for a Breastfeeding Friendly Doctor

by Traci Lynne Brewer, MD, IBCLC

Dr. Traci Lynne Brewer with her
husband and new baby.
I'm a  homeschooling, stay at home mom, living in Central Asia, pregnant with my third child at 40.  What an interesting turn of events for a pediatrician and lactation consultant born and raised in Huntsville, Alabama.    But, I can't think of a better situation for my family right now. 

In light of my eminent delivery I have been asked to describe my wish list for a breastfeeding friendly doctor for my daughter, due any day now.

Here goes:

Wish #1:  The doctor will want to see me and my daughter 48 hours after discharge from the hospital.  Sure, it's a pain to get the baby and the gear loaded up and make an appointment on little to no sleep, but breastfeeding issues identified early are easier to work on than problems that can develop by 2 weeks of age.

Wish #2:  If my daughter has jaundice, I want breastfeeding to be given a chance.  An elevated bilirubin is not an automatic indication for formula feeding.

Wish #3:  If I encounter a breastfeeding issue that requires more specific knowledge or time than my doctor has, I want to be referred to a board certified lactation consultant.  Evaluations for lactation issues take time, something that doctors frequently lack, even if they are comfortable with breastfeeding advice.  This includes recommendations on how to return to work while continuing to breastfeed.   While I'm wishing, I'll wish for a lactation consultant working in the doctor's office.

Wish # 4:  I would like a doctor that doesn't put a endpoint on breastfeeding.  Finding support for breastfeeding past a year can be difficult.  Wouldn't it be great to have the doctor on your side?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How Long Do You Plan to Nurse That Baby????

Photo from Breastfeeding Moms Unite
A while back we posted  about extended breastfeeding and how greatly it can benefit your child. A few weeks back on our Facebook page, we asked our ANM moms how they would respond to the following question:
Someone says, "How long do you plan to nurse that baby???" You say......
We received some terrific responses and hope that you will enjoy them as much as we did! We have categorized them so you can choose whether you want to simply respond, try to educate or go for the all-out reaction!

Basic "Until" Responses

  • Until he's weaned himself, whenever that may be.
  • Until she's 1 and probably more.
  • Until she doesn't want to anymore.
  • Until the kid can talk about it.
  • Until i get pregnant with the next one.
  • Until he sleeps through the night

Educational Responses

  • Whenever it no longer works for us, at least a year!
  • Ideally a year and then till one or both of us want to stop.
  • Until he decides he is ready to stop!  This is not my choice, it is my son's.  I'm happy with whatever he decides!
  • Two Years! (minimum)
  • Well, since her immune system is not fully developed until age 2...that is my goal. After that it's up to her!
  • I always just say when we both decide that it is time to quit. This has been a team effort so it will be a team decision.

In Your Face Responses

  • I just say I don't know, in a flippant tone like its the dumbest question I've ever heard.
  • I'd say, "That's none of your business," and kindly turn away.....
  • Until you stop asking nosy questions!
  • Just about long enough to make you uncomfortable and then probably longer.
  • Until he decides to stop. If it offends you...cover your eyes.
  • As long as it takes!
  • Until she's done.
  • "Oh... About 5 more minutes." They always look confused and walk away.....
  •  Just to joke with them and aggravate them I'll say," Just another ten minutes!"
  •  I look at my watch (or phone)... "Probably another 15-20 minutes." Stupid questions don't deserve a serious answer.
  • Till he stops!!
  • Photo from Birth by Design Midwifery Service
  • I just give them a polite stare and let the silence drag on till they are uncomfortable and wish they hadn't asked.

Outrageous Responses (Guaranteed to get a response!)

  • Until my husband's milk comes in...
  • She will be weaned before she goes to college! That comment earns an eye roll or a laugh and prevents further questions!
  • I figure I'll wait until he graduates college.
  • Until she qualifies for AARP. What's it to you?
  • Until he looks at me and says "Mom, we need to start seeing other people."
  • Until she moves out. We're trying to cut back on our food budget.
The next time somebody gives you a hard time about extended breastfeeding, decide whether you want to educate, antagonize or get a laugh, and choose your response accordingly! Do you have a favorite response? Take just a minute to share it here!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Alabama Mother Harassed for Nursing in a WIC Office!

If Beyonce can do it, so can you!
Today I received an email from a mother that absolutely floored me! She was in a Montgomery WIC office waiting room breastfeeding her baby discreetly when she was chastised by a health department employee  who told her that she shouldn't nurse in the waiting room because she was "distracting people." She tried to explain that she had a nursing cover and a blanket, but before she could even get it out she was moved into a cluttered storage room where the employee had to move papers and pamphlets out of the chair so the mother could sit down to nurse.

From Woman's E News
To add insult to injury, as the mother was beginning to nurse again, the employee began banging on the closed storage room door demanding that the mother open it. Then another employee came to "supervise" the mother. The first employee then brought a blanket and threw it over the child's head. This was NOT the mother's own blanket, and the mother had absolutely no idea where it came from or what germs might be on it. The baby began to fuss and kick off the cover with the end result that she did not get to nurse adequately before the mother was called back for her appointment.

There is SO MUCH wrong with what happened to this mother, but I think the thing that is MOST upsetting is the fact that she was in an office where infant nutrition is supposed to be the highest priority. What better nutrition is there than breast milk? Is the WIC system so dependent upon their contracts with the formula companies that they have to discourage breastfeeding? Are the workers completely unaware of Alabama state law? For anyone who is wondering, here is what our state law says:

 Breastfeeding children in public or private locations.
A mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be present.
 Or is the bottle-feeding culture just so culturally ingrained in them that they really don't care about what the law says?

Fortunately this mother is taking some proactive steps. She is writing a letter to the WIC department in her county. I can only hope that it will help. However, if every mother who reads this encourages every mother she knows who is on WIC to make it a point to nurse in the WIC office and have a copy of the law on hand just in case anybody says anything, it won't be long before that department gets the message!

I do have to conclude by emphasizing how impressed I have been with the Madison County WIC office and the desire I have seen in some of the workers there to encourage breastfeeding. I was honored to be invited by them to speak to their moms about breastfeeding last year. So not all offices are the same. Nevertheless, if you live in an area where your WIC office isn't very supportive, remember your rights and exercise them!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Traveling with Breast Milk, Infant Formula and Baby Food

Photo from   Modern Milk Sharing
You are finishing up your last minute preparations for a quick business trip when all of a sudden you remember all the breast milk you will be pumping while you're away from baby for three days. The thought of dumping all that milk makes you absolutely ill, but what in the world are you going to do with it all?

I've got great news for you! You can take it home with you - even if you're flying! The Transportation  Security Administration has actually created a page specifically to address the needs of traveling parents. Basically, parents are allowed to carry whatever breastmilk, baby food or infant formula that their infant will need. Furthermore, mothers traveling without their babies are also allowed to carry breast milk.

Of course, every mother knows that keeping breast milk cold is vitally important. The TSA has addressed that as well. I called today and spoke with a very knowledgeable and helpful agent who actually sent me additional information.

Breast Milk

  • Breast milk must be separated from other property and declared to a Transportation Security Officer (TSO) prior to entering the checkpoint. Parents are allowed to bring as much breast milk as they will need for the trip. Mothers who have pumped and frozen their milk while traveling may bring that frozen milk with them.
    Photo from Daphne ph
  • If you don't want your breast milk to go through the X-ray screening, you must request an alternative screening before placing it on the belt.
  • When traveling with an infant or toddler, passengers are also allowed to bring into the screening checkpoint more than 3.4 ounces of pre-mixed baby formula (in a liquid, or frozen state); milk products; juice; gel or liquid-filled teethers; bottled water; and canned, jarred, processed baby food and essential non-prescription liquid medications. You must declare these items to a TSO prior to entering the checkpoint.
  • While passengers may be requested to open a container, they will never be asked to test or taste any of these items. If a container cannot be opened, the containers may be allowed into the sterile area only after it and the passenger undergoes additional screening, which may include a patdown. 
  • All frozen items are permitted as long as they are solid and in a “frozen state” when presented for screening. Cooling liquids or gels used to keep medical or infant child exemptions cold are not bound by 3-1-1 requirements and may be presented at the screening checkpoint in a frozen or partially-frozen state. It is important to remember, however, that any item must be properly screened before being allowed into the secure area of the airport.

Breast Pump

  • Individuals traveling with or without a child may bring a breast pump through the screening checkpoint. However, all child-related devices are subject to screening by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). 
  • You will be asked to place the breast pump in a plastic bin provided at the screening checkpoint and onto the x-ray conveyor belt before walking through the walk-through metal detector. If it does not fit through the x-ray machine, Transportation Security Officers will visually and physically screen the item. 
  • You may place it in a clear plastic bag prior to x-ray screening if you are concerned about contamination, but you must provide your own plastic bag.  

Cooling Elements

Current Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations permit regular ice, frozen gel packs, and dry ice in checked baggage and carry-on bags.

Checked Baggage: Regular ice and frozen gel packs in checked baggage are not restricted by TSA. When regular ice is transported, TSA recommends a cooler. For dry ice:
Courtesy of  Eats on Feets

  • TSA requires that its packaging permit the release of carbon dioxide gas.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) limits each piece of checked baggage to five pounds of dry ice.
  • The FAA requires that each package of dry ice be marked “DRY ICE” or “CARBON DIOXIDE SOLID."
  • The FAA requires that each package of dry ice be marked with the net weight of the dry ice or an indication that the amount of dry ice is five pounds or less. 
Carry-On Bags: TSA allows frozen items (regular ice, gel packs, and food) at the screening checkpoint as long as they are solid and in a “frozen state” when presented for screening. If frozen items are partially melted or have any liquid at the bottom of the container, the ice liquid container must meet 3-1-1 requirements. For dry ice:

  • TSA requires that its packaging permit the release of carbon dioxide gas.
  • The FAA limits each piece of carry-on baggage to 4.4 pounds of dry ice.
  • The FAA requires that each package of dry ice be marked “DRY ICE” or “CARBON DIOXIDE SOLID."
  • The FAA requires that each package of dry ice be marked with the net weight of the dry ice or an indication that the amount of dry ice is 4.4 pounds or less.