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  • Works for Me Wednesday: an inexpensive nursing pad alternative

    This isn’t my own tip, although I definitely would have tried it if I’d known about it or thought about it on my own back when I was nursing. A Parents magazine reader suggested it in the November issue, and I thought it was a good tip that probably works well:

    Instead of using disposable nursing pads, cut a pantyliner in two. It’s thinner and because the adhesive covers the entire back, it’ll stay in place better. It’s also probably equally absorbent, at least once you’re past the engorgement stage.

    This is also a great way to use those free pantyliners that are so often available through The Drugstore Game.

    Find more Works for Me Wednesday tips over at Rocks in my Dryer.

    Breastfeeding Tyler: The finale

    This post has been updated!

    Read my previous posts on this topic:

    After discussing weaning about a month ago, I both followed Tyler’s lead and led him to the end of breastfeeding. In the last month, he’s easily switched from nursing first thing in the morning to eating Cheerios. If he had fought it, I would have delayed weaning, but instead, it went pretty smoothly. Bedtime was a slightly more difficult transition, with Marc taking the lead for a few nights. But I think it was actually harder for me than for Tyler, seeing how easily he gave up nursing for books and songs.

    I’m reasonably confident that we nursed for the last time this past Friday, and unless I find myself in excruciating pain, I have no plans to nurse him again. So I can tally up the total cost of breastfeeding Tyler and compare it to the cost of breastfeeding Alex, and to the cost of buying formula for over a year.

    At last count, I had spent $771, and I don’t think I bought anything nursing-related after that. My greatest expense by far was the milk supply boosting supplement, More Milk Special Blend. Of the $771, $505 was spent on Special Blend. It was worth every penny, of course, because I don’t produce enough milk without it. But without it, I would have spent only $266 on breastfeeding – on a few new bras and tops, lanolin, and nursing pads. Not bad.

    I didn’t track the cost of breastfeeding Alex, but my guess is that the total was around $1500. This includes all of the nursing gear I bought the first time around – bras, shirts, pillows, washable pads, my pump, etc. So I definitely spent less this time, mainly because I already had much of what I needed, and because I didn’t need to spend as much on lactation consultations.

    How much did I save by not buying formula? According to Baby Cheapskate, the lowest price for name-brand formula is $19.99 for a 25.7 ounce can, which works out to 78 cents per ounce. I plugged that number into KellyMom.com’s cost benefits of breastfeeding calculator and came up with a cost of $7961 to formula feed a baby for one year.

    Updated: Much thanks to reader Michele for pointing out that the 25.7 ounce can is a powder that creates 191 ounces of formula, which works out to about 10 cents per ounce. Plug 10 cents into the KellyMom calculator and you get the much more palatable figure of $1020 for one year’s worth of formula. Much better!

    I’m sure that number could be lowered by using coupons and/or store brand formula, but regardless, I’m convinced that I saved a lot of money by breastfeeding Tyler. And he and I are both better off for it, too. Not only did we bond via breastfeeding, he’ll have (I hope!) a strong immune system because of it. And I’ve hopefully reduced my risk of breast cancer. You can’t beat that!

    Thinking about weaning . . . how do you know when it’s time?

    The first time I was breastfeeding, the decision on when to wean came easily. I was pregnant again and I wanted some time off before I had to start all over again. This is obviously a personal preference. One of my friends has a son who’s one month older than Alex and a daughter who’s four months younger than Tyler, and she never stopped, meaning she’s been nursing for over three years straight now! She’s content with her choices, and I’m content with mine.

    I think weaning gets tricky when Mom and Baby have different wants. Sometimes Baby seems to lose interest in nursing before Mom is ready to give up – I’ve been assured by my lactation consultant that this is something Mom can work through and Baby will start nursing again (at least if Baby is less than a year old). I wouldn’t know, since I have the opposite problem. I’m pretty much ready to quit nursing but Tyler still loves it. It may be in part that he’s simply used to nursing first thing in the morning and last thing at night as a matter of routine. But sometimes when he wakes up from a nap screaming, nursing is the only thing that will comfort him, which makes me hesitant to stop. (I otherwise don’t nurse him during the day anymore.)

    I had planned to nurse Tyler until he is 18 months, which is a little more than month away. But over the weekend, we went to the beach (it was 100 degrees) and I wouldn’t go past the edge of the water because I was wearing cropped jeans. I was thinking that I really ought to wear shorts, but I can’t because my legs bear ugly scars from the pemphigoid gestationis that developed when I was pregnant with Tyler. I have been looking forward to using self-tanner to minimize their appearance after weaning Tyler. (There probably isn’t any harm, but I just wanted to be one hundred percent safe and make sure no unnecessary chemicals got into my breastmilk.) So since this past weekend, I’ve been thinking about weaning a lot.

    A review of articles on weaning on authoritative web sites like Babycenter, Kellymom, and La Leche League yields what common sense already told me: weaning is least traumatic for the child if his lead is followed, and should be done gradually. (Breastfeeding.com seems to suggest that a mother should nurse until her child is five or six years old, when the first permanent molars appear and “infancy” ends. My reaction: No way!)

    The simple fact of the matter is that I am ready to start cutting out those last nursing sessions. And I’ll try to do it as painlessly as possible. In our case, it will mean offering food (usually cereal) when Tyler wakes up in the morning. And Marc will probably take over bedtime with Tyler – they can do books, and then Marc can put Tyler in his crib. In the meantime, I can start Alex’s bedtime routine.

    How long will it take? I’m not sure. Unlike the last time, I don’t have a definite timetable (back then, I wanted six months off so I had a hard deadline). And of course, I have mixed feelings about this. Nursing really is a special bonding time. But I’m ready to have my body back to myself!

    What are your experiences with weaning?

    Domperidone and Breastfeeding

    When I was going through my milk supply troubles with Alex, I definitely would have taken domperidone if my doctor had offered to me. According to kellymom.com:

    Domperidone has been used successfully in Canada and other areas of the world, and has significantly fewer side effects than Reglan. It has been approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics for use in breastfeeding mothers, and has been given Lactation Risk Category L1 (“safest”) in the 2004 edition of Medications and Mothers’ Milk. It is not widely available in the U.S. – you may be able to get a compounding pharmacy to make it for you if your doctor prescribes it, or may also be able to order it from Canada or other countries).

    But today, Parenting Magazine cautioned:

    In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration banned its sale for any use, due to concerns about health risks. Yet some pharmacies continue to sell it, and moms are taking the drug because many doctors contend it’s safer than commonly prescribed lactation aids. Whether or not it’s safe enough, it’s definitely not legal. Until more research is available, ask your doctor about natural lactation aids or techniques if you’re having trouble.

    I certainly found a “natural” aid that worked for me: More Milk Special Blend. I haven’t noticed any harmful effects, but the label does say that they haven’t studied the long term effects and I would recommend you speak to your doctor or lactation consultant before taking it if you have any concerns.

    Thrush: Risk Factors, Symptoms, and Treatment

    Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor and that this post is intended as a starting point for breastfeeding moms. Sources for this post include internet articles, my own experiences, and my friends’ experiences. If you suspect that you and/or your baby have thrush, please contact an expert.

    A couple of my breastfeeding friends have been diagnosed with thrush, which is a yeast infection in mommy’s breasts and/or baby’s mouth and/or baby’s bottom. Some factors like vaginal yeast infections and the administration of antibiotics during pregnancy or birth can increase the likelihood of developing thrush. It’s extremely painful – one of my friends even compared it being in labor. Symptoms may include:

    • intense pain in mommy that lasts throughout the feeding and isn’t improved by adjusting the latch or positioning
    • sudden development of nipple pain after a period of pain-free nursing
    • itchy, painful and/or red nipples
    • shooting pains in the breast
    • diaper rash that doesn’t respond to usual creams or ointments
    • white spots in baby’s mouth that can’t be wiped off
    • clicking during nursing or a sudden change in nursing pattern

    There are other symptoms, and sometimes only baby will have symptoms or vice versa. And, at least in my experience, having some of these symptoms does not mean you and/or baby have a yeast infection. In fact, at some point with both of my kids, I was convinced I had thrush and I was (thankfully!) wrong.

    However, if you do have thrush, it’s extremely difficult to get rid of. I think that’s the worst part about it. Ideally, both mommy and baby will be treated at the same time. However, most pediatricians don’t like treating mommy and most ob/gyn’s don’t like treating babies, so you’ll have to at least call, if not see, both doctors. And some doctors won’t treat an asymptomatic mommy or baby.

    For treatment, generally, baby is prescribed Nystatin drops and mommy is prescribed Nystatin cream. Over the counter antifungal creams may be used on the nipples but must be wiped off prior to feeding; they can also be used on baby’s bottom to treat a thrush-induced diaper rash. For more persistent cases, a doctor may prescribe diflucan for mommy. You may also want to consider live culture acidophilus, gentian violet, and/or garlic supplements. Additionally, you should air your nipples out as much as possible and sterilize all items that come into contact with baby’s mouth (pacis, bottles, toys, etc.). Finally, milk that is expressed while mommy or baby has thrush may be fed to baby via bottle but not frozen since giving baby that milk after the thrush has been treated can cause a recurrence.

    For additional information, you may want to check out the following links:

    Breastfeeding Tyler – Final Update (I think)

    See my previous posts on this topic here, here, here, here, and here.

    As of my last update, I was up to $657 spent on breastfeeding Tyler, $57 over budget. I’ve gone over even more, having bought another $110 on More Milk Special Blend and $4 on nursing pads. I think – hope! – that this is the last of my expenditures on breastfeeding, although I may need to buy another package of storage bags before I’m able to stop pumping.

    A few new thoughts since my last update 2 1/2 months ago:

    • Target was out of Lansinoh nursing pads but had Gerber pads* on sale, so I picked up a package and they seem to work fine. They don’t have a waterproof backing, soI definitely would not have worn them for the first few months of breastfeeding. But now they’re perfectly acceptable and about half the price of the Lansinoh pads.
    • As Tyler eats more food, I’ll naturally start nursing less and less. I plan to be done with daytime feedings around the time of his first birthday. But I’ll let him self-wean after that point (although I definitely plan to be done by his second birthday at the latest!).

    *Not available on their web site.