Pump Up Your Knowledge: How can you find the perfect Breast Pump for you!

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After much debate and research, you have made your mind up. For your baby Breast is Best. But how can you stick to this commitment? Whether you are headed back to work, want to give daddy special feeding bonding time, or are just looking to give your nipples a break, breast pumps are your answer.

Now, which on to choose? There are SO MANY OPTIONS!

Manual? or Electric? Is a great place to begin. The Mayo Clinic has created a great list of questions based on your lifestyle that can help guide your decision, Here is our list:

·      Will you be pumping on a tight schedule?

o   Do you need a double pump?

·      Does the pump come assembled?

·      Is the pump light, quiet and convenient to transport?

o   Does it come with an insulated carrying case?

·      How easy is the pump to clean?

·      Is it BPA Free?

·      Can you adjust shield size, speed, rhythm, and suction levels?

·      Is it able to be used without a plug-in power source?

o   Does it come with a battery backup or a car charger?

·      Where can you find reliable product reviews?

·      Finally…What is your budget?

This will help determine where you may want to get your pump.

Buying isn’t the only option. You can also borrow one from a trusted acquaintance or rent one. There are many resources on the benefits and how where to rent or borrow .

If you are looking to purchase your pump many models can be seen on display at Brand name baby stores and big box stores. For a thriftier option you can often purchase used systems from medical supply stores, community newspapers, even social media swap and sells are great go tos.

But, did you know most health insurance plans cover the cost of buying or renting a breast pump. There are even places like Acelleron who’s staff are skilled in helping you pick the pump best for you.

Remember, Maine doulas are here to support you in all your lactation needs, from set up to clean up, reviews and even How Tos. We are available to make sure you are picking the perfect pump.

Nipple Variations and Breastfeeding

 

When you're breastfeeding, there's a few things that can cause some hiccups along the way. 

Did you know that the size and shape of your nipples may play a role in the way your baby is able to breastfeed effectively? Even if nipple shape is different for every mother, there's a few tips and tricks that can make breastfeeding easier for you and and your baby. 

An improper latch can result in nipple pain and a fussy, frustrated baby.

The first step is identifying what your nipple shape is, and the cues your baby is giving at feeding time. 

Flat Nipples

If your nipples lay flat or flush to your breast when not stimulated, you might be in this category. Flat nipples can be a challenge while breastfeeding, as they keep your baby from being able to latch properly. If this sounds like you, try stimulating the nipple area before latching your baby to give them a helping hand. Your breast pump may also help draw out the nipple more before breastfeeding. Many mothers with flatter nipples find that the football or cross-cradle hold gives them more control and allows the baby to latch properly. Experiment with different feeding positions that allows the baby to latch as far as possible.  

Inverted Nipples

Having inverted nipples can be even more of a challenge than flat nipples because they are typically unable to be stimulated to protrude. When breasts become engorged, inverted nipples may even more difficult to stimulate. Your lactation consultant may recommend pumping several days to a week before breastfeeding to encourage nipples to protrude enough for your baby to latch properly. While nursing you might find it to be more helpful to pull back on the breast tissue to expose more nipple to the baby. Your postpartum doula can help you create a breastfeeding plan that makes feeding time more comfortable with nipple inversion.

Large Nipples

Properly latching for the first few times can be challenging if the mother has large nipples. The problem here is the baby is unable to get the entire nipple in their mouth properly, disrupting milk flow and causing them to slip off the breast. This can be remedied with different positions and some assistance as they latch. Also it may be helpful to avoid any additional stimulation of the nipple right before latching as you would for inverted or flat nipples. When your baby goes to feed, help manipulate the breast tissue to align them properly with the nipple and try holding them at different angles that can keep you both comfortable. In this case, practice makes perfect and your baby will develop their own techniques. 

Even with a few challenges, breastfeeding can be an incredible and rewarding experience. 

Having some additional support can give you the confidence you need to reach your breastfeeding goals and overcome obstacles along the way.

 

Baby-Proofing Your Marriage

Bringing home a new baby can be emotionally and physically challenging. 

But the challenges don't end there.

Your relationship is one of the areas that tend to need the most TLC when you're adjusting to life as a new family. 

In the awesome book Babyproofing Your Marriage: How to Laugh More, Argue Less and Communicate Better as Your Family Grows by Stacie CockrellCathy O'Neill, and Julia Stone is an awesome guide to the different challenges parents will face along the way. 

They cover everything from in-laws to intimacy, to help couples who might be struggling to reconnect and maintain their spark. 

“Telling a mother who has a child and work commitments to chill out is like telling a nuclear engineer not to worry about the leak in the reactor he has been sent in to fix.”

We plucked a few of our favorite "stages" and words of advice from the book to throw some refreshing tips your way to living happier as a married couple with kids.

The Initial Fear

Once the hospital sends you and your new baby on your merry way, the panic sets in. There's a moment when parents look at each other terrified and admit that "they're not so sure they can do this." A bunch of irrational fears and paranoia start to drive the wedge between parents.  

The Parade

Luckily the first few weeks are anything but lonely, with a parade of friends and relatives coming in and out of the house to lend a hand with the baby. Like all good parades, this too will come to an end. Once the relatives leave, parents are back to square one and have to figure out what to do next. Talk about stressful. But knowing what to expect in your first few weeks postpartum will help parents relax and work together as a team. 

New Job

Sometimes a new baby feels less like a joy and more like a full time job. Your boss just happens to be a very cute but relentlessly needy new baby. New parents are prepared for some sleepless nights, but it's one of those things you just don't know what it's like until you're on the front lines. When parents are tired, they're stressed and consistently cranky. A cranky spouse is sure to build quite a divide in the relationship, making the first few months particularly tough.

Explosive Fights

Remember when fights were as cute as what to eat for dinner or why you didn't get a call back right away? Those days are long gone and most arguments from here on out tend to be a little more aggressive. The stress of transitioning into roles as parents can create a lot of tension that makes communication more important than ever. 

It's a crazy journey, but an amazing one.

The Baby-Proofing Your Marriage book is an awesome read for any parent who might be feeling a little stressed out as they settle into life as a brand new family. 

 

Making Bath Time Fun

As your little one gets older, bath time can become a daily battle for parents.

When you're trying to bathe a wiggly toddler, it takes some serious reflexes and coordination. When you incorporate some fun bath time activities, bath time is easier for parents and safer for baby. We gathered together some of our favorite products and activities to make bath time actually a fun way to wind down the day.

Don't get too upset if your fun bath time isn't picture perfect, there's no creative parenting judge. Anything that can bring a little more whimsy to bath time will be appreciated by your kids and make the whole process easier on you.

LUSH's  Intergalactic  bath bomb in action.

LUSH's Intergalactic bath bomb in action.

This is Fun, Literally!

Lush's Dragon Fun Kit

Lush's Dragon Fun Kit

The popular all natural cosmetics brand LUSH is famous for their hypoallergenic and fresh ingredients. Aside from their bath bombs that explode into a rainbow of colors, they've also been hard at work trying to make bath time a little more fun. Who doesn't like play dough? You can't exactly build a play dough pizza in the bath tub, but with LUSH's fun you can! They've engineered a malleable dough that can be used as bubble bath, shampoo, soap and sweetly scented sculpting clay exclusively for bath time. 

What can make this brand better? LUSH is a huge advocate against animal testing, only uses sustainable ingredients and donating to charities. With every roll of "fun" sold, part of the profits are sent to build playgrounds and safe recreation spaces for children in Japan.

Kitchen Utensils

Sometimes simple is the way to go. With the help of some plastic kitchen utensils like colanders, plastic spoons and measuring cups can transform a bath into sensory play time. Plastic colanders of different sizes make fun "rain clouds" with fun patterns of water. Measuring cups and spoons can help your crafty toddler make a big bowl of soap soup. Little kitchen gadgets can help distract your little ones long enough to wash their hair without any complaints or fussing. 

Fill the tub with different size containers and utensils with your LUSH bath bomb and you'll be able to make bath time fun with plenty of aromatic oils to relax your little one before bedtime.

Glowing Tub

Nothing captivates kids more than glow sticks. One of the coolest bath time accessories is floating a handful of colorful glow sticks into the tub and dimming the lights. The bath water will light up incredibly bright and your toddlers can explore a neon scavenger hunt in the tub. Dimmed lights will get them sleepy and glow sticks are incredibly difficult to break, making this a safe way to spice up bath time. Kick up your outer space theme with some homemade alien slime! Really it's just food coloring in some shaving cream, but your kids can paint the tub while you wash them up. 

If you're nervous about putting glow sticks in the tub for some reason, did you know that tonic water glows light blue under black light? Try picking up a couple bottles of tonic water from the grocery store and replacing your bathroom vanity bulbs with some black lights. Just be careful, these black light bulbs tend to get extremely hot. 

She Bakes and Creates  homemade glowing bath paint recipe

She Bakes and Creates homemade glowing bath paint recipe

Who said bath time has to be boring?

With a little help from some toys and homemade bath accessories, you can have an awesome bath adventure that will make bath time fights a thing of the past. 

Try switching it up for holidays, events and heading to sites like Pinterest for a little bit of inspiration for crazy bath adventures for every age. 

The First 40 Days Postpartum Survival Guide

Extended maternity is an absolute luxury.

In some cultures, mothers traditionally stay close to home for an extended period after their baby's birth. In Sweden, new parents are eligible for 480 days of leave that includes 18 consecutive weeks of postpartum leave at 80 percent of their salary! The rest of their days are theirs to use as they see fit. 

The United States offers new mothers 12 weeks maternity leave and it is entirely unpaid. Only certain employers offer paid maternity leave and it usually comes with stipulations. 

Statistically, mothers that don't receive compensated maternity leave are more susceptible to postpartum depression and anxiety. Without the luxury of extended maternity leave, paid or unpaid, mothers definitely need an extra set of hands. 

This is where your postpartum doula saves the day. 

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding the doula profession and many families don't even know what we can offer families that are expecting a new baby. 

Postpartum doulas are by your side to nurture you and your entire family as you make the transition home with your newborn and begin the healing process. Different from a midwife's role, we are in the home paying close attention to make sure the mother is right on track with her postpartum recovery and keep everything running smoothly around the house and with the rest of your family. 

The first six weeks are the most challenging and your doula team is there to cut back on the stress of acclimating to your new baby responsibilities. 

We're on your schedule and customize our care plans to suit your specific needs. We work with the way you parent to encourage parents to learn baby basics and gain confidence in those precious first weeks. Since we offer overnight care, sleepless nights for new moms are things of the past. Sleep is incredibly important for postpartum mothers as they regain their strength, begin a breastfeeding routine and heal from birth. We'll take over newborn care in the evening to encourage mothers to get a peaceful and restful night's sleep they can count on. 

Getting your little one on feeding and sleeping schedules can be difficult with the "back to work deadline" looming overhead. Your postpartum doula comes with a little extra peace of mind that you'll be on a healthy schedule for pumping, feedings and naptime no matter how soon you expect to return to work. 

Your maternity leave may be short but it doesn't have to be stressful. 

A good support system is crucial for any mother bringing home a new baby and your postpartum doula is there to give you the help you need every step of the way.

After all, teamwork makes the dream work. 

 

Newborn Instincts

Your newborn is amazing.

And for more reasons than you might think.

Aside from being exceptionally cute, they have incredible instincts that are broken down to 9 specific stages in their first few hours postpartum.

When you meet your new baby you might be wondering how they know to start feeding, how they can hold onto you and have all these instincts that help them transition to their first day in the great big world. 

The Birth Cry

This is music to every new mother's ears. That initial cry indicates a healthy gasp of air for the first time, as the lungs expand. This is the first peep you'll hear out of your new baby and it's incredible to hear. There's nothing to be concerned about, all babies need to let out a gasp and a cry to get the fluid out of their lungs and start breathing air outside the womb.

Relaxation

Birth is exhausting! Once they've cried a healthy supply of oxygen into their new lungs, it's time to take a load off. During this stage, the body relaxes and the baby gets bundled into a warm towel, blanket or gets warm skin to skin contact with mom. They're usually not "awake or alert" during this stage and just relaxing from the stress of birth.

Waking 

Good morning sunshine! After getting some time to relax, a newborn wakes up. A little under five minutes into the world, a baby wakes up and starts moving around. After all there's plenty to see in this new space and tons of room to start wiggling around. During the awakening stage, a newborn will start opening their eyes, moving hands, arms shoulders and feet while opening their mouth. Sometimes babies will even crack a smile.

Activity

Around ten minutes after birth, a newborn is awake and starting their rooting reflexes. You'll see more mouth movements and they'll start rooting around for their first meal. They've been through quite the journey and it's just about dinner time. 

Rest

At any point in the first hour or so postpartum, a new baby might take the opportunity to rest. New babies have quite a bit of developing to do and require a ton of rest. Through the first hour or so after birth, your baby will periodically rest or doze off in between activity. 

Crawling

While they can't crawl across the floor, your baby can actually do a fair amount of crawling. It's incredible how they can move so much of their body weight so soon after birth and within the first half hour, they're crawling toward a mother's breast to start feeding. Crawling isn't exactly what you'd think and it's more like reaching and searching for food. 

Familiarization

Everything is so new and where's a baby to find some directions? During familiarization, a newborn is acquainting themselves with the mother's skin, breast and nipple. This will help them feed better and be the first bonding experience the mother and baby will share. This is an opportunity for skin to skin contact, keeping the baby warm and familiarizing with the scent, feel and sound of their mother outside the womb. 

Feeding

Time for dinner. During the 8th phase, the newborn begins suckling and feeding. The newborn gets itself to this point when they're ready and it usually takes between 40 minutes to an hour to get them to latch for the first time. They won't consume too much volume, but don't worry there will be plenty of time to fill their bellies later on. Your labor doula can help you facilitate this process and find a position that's comfortable for you and your new baby. 

Sleep

What a day! After they've suckled, the newborn (and the mother) usually falls asleep. They've been through a lot and it's left them exhausted. A new baby typically sleeps 1 to 2 hours after birth and will snooze on and off all day and night throughout the first few weeks. 

What a process!

It's incredible how many instincts help a new baby transition into the world in their first hour after birth. Knowing these stages help parents prepare and relax as they watch their new baby take their first breaths, learn to eat and how to snooze. 

 

Where to Find That Holiday Glow

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No matter what you celebrate this time of year, bringing light into the darkest days is a theme in many religions and winter routines. There is a special feeling that accompanies the sparkle of a string of lights or a flicker of a candle. Here we share some of the upcoming events in our communities to celebrate this winter tradition.

LL Bean Northern Lights

November 18-December 31 

LL Bean is changing things up this year. They are creating a Discovery Forest surrounding a geodesic dome featuring the aurora borealis, instead of their usual musical Christmas tree. The lighting and kick off celebration starts tomorrow (November 18th) at 6:45. The fun doesn’t end there, as Bean continues the holiday happenings with a model train village daily, and horse drawn wagon rides, reindeer barn (real reindeer!) and visits with Santa on the weekends. The events will wrap up on new year’s eve with their annual kiddo fireworks display. Check out their hashtag #llbeanmoment to share the fun!

Once you've enjoyed the epic holiday cheer at LL Bean, there are plenty of other wonderful TREE LIGHTING EVENTS around the state:

Christmas in Rockland

November 25-27th

These festivities kick off when Santa arrives by Coast Guard escort! He’ll help light the tree after a busy afternoon. The following day there are events all around town leading up to the Festival of Lights parade. The weekend wraps up with a breakfast with Santa on the 27th. A full family weekend!

Lighting of the Nubble Lighthouse, York

November 26th 4:30-7p  

What is more Maine than celebrating the holidays at a historic lighthouse? Cocoa, carolers and a visit from Santa round out this lighthouse lighting celebration!

Also in York on December 3rd at 4:30 is their Festival of Lights parade. 

Christmas in Kennebunk

November 26th 5-9  

Santa lights the tree while carolers sing! Opportunities to skate with Santa.

Tree Lighting and Fireworks Downtown Kennebunk

December 9th 5:30

Tree lighting and fireworks display at Dock's Square to kick off the holiday season in downtown Kennebunk. 

Holiday Fest 2016 at Millcreek, South Portland

December 2nd 4:30-7pm 

Horse drawn carriage rides, a visit with Santa and a tree lighting!

Old Fashioned Christmas, Bath

November 26th-December 31st 

The lighting of the tree starts the festivities, but this town celebrates in such a way that you’ll be transported back to simpler times. One highlight is their red letter box, where children can post letters to Old Saint Nick.

Night Tree Event at Wolfe’s Neck Farm, Freeport

December 3rd 9a-2p 

Get your tickets early for this family favorite! Admittedly, there’s no tree lighting here, but this sweet gathering follows the story of a family who feeds the forest animals by making special tree decorations. Each hour, beginning at 9am, the story is shared, then children can decorate a pinecone to bring into the forest on a short hike. A darling tradition to start with your young ones!

Light the Farm at Pineland, Gray

December 3rd 2-4:30p 

Face painting, candle making, walking the winter spiral will all precede the annual lighting of Pineland Farm!

Gardens Aglow at the Coastal Botanical Gardens, Boothbay

November 18th-December 31st 

A magnificent vision to behold as hundreds of thousands of holiday lights are strung amidst the beautiful gardens. Enjoy the sights as well as special food and drink at the cafe.

Festival of Lights Parade and Tree Lighting, Bangor

December 3rd 4:30p

This parade is sure to beam through the city, with over 70 entries set to dazzle with the theme "Holidays Around the World". At the end of the parade, the city will have its annual tree lighting.

Does your town have an annual holiday light display? We'd love to hear about it! Share in the comments.