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Going Back to Work and Breastfeeding: Your Rights

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When I was pregnant, I remember being reluctant to commit to long-term breastfeeding. I didn’t understand pumping and had quite a bit of anxiety about having to do it at work, not to mention explaining to my employer. During my maternity leave, I absolutely loved breastfeeding my daughter, so I read up on the benefits and challenges of being a working, breastfeeding mom. I found that the federal government has made provisions just for moms like me!

The Fair Labor Standards Act (a mouthful, I know!) outlines what your employer is required to provide for you as a breastfeeding momma, including “a reasonable break time for an employee to express breastmilk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk; and a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.” A quick chat with my supportive HR representative led to the arrangement of a private pumping room. Ok, so it was a storage closet with a chair, lamp, table, and an extension cord, but it worked! And after the first couple of weeks, it was just like second nature.

Formula can cost hundreds per month, and even WIC is only supplemental, which means it is just a part of what baby will need, so you’ll still be paying out of pocket for some of it. Breastfeeding costs nothing, plus it supplies your baby with perfect nutrition. Another great piece of legislation for breastfeeding moms inside the Affordable Care Act says “health insurance plans must provide breastfeeding support, counseling, and equipment for the duration of breastfeeding.” That means your insurance should cover the cost of a pump and lactation consultations. More savings!

So, there you have it. It can be done. Any amount of breastmilk our babies get is a blessing, and everyone likes to save money! So whether you are fully or partially breastfeeding, don’t feel like going back to work means you have to stop.

#breastfeeding #breastfeedingworkingmom #breastfeedingsavesmoney

https://www.dol.gov/whd/nursingmothers/Sec7rFLSA_btnm.htm
https://www.healthcare.gov/coverage/breast-feeding-benefits/

Breastfeeding – The Gift of A Lifetime

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As a young, naïve, soon-to-be mom of my firstborn, I didn’t like it when people asked if I was going to breastfeed. I never really understood or knew much about it.  Quite honestly, I didn’t really care. I felt the same way with my second child.  If anybody ever said anything to me about breastfeeding, I would always shut them off. The way I look at my body now is totally different than I did at that point in my life. Looking back on my first two kids, I sit here and think – how could I have been so selfish to have taken away one of the best, most priceless things I could have given my babies? I would often think about this before my third child was born. I always said if I was to have another baby, I was absolutely going to breastfeed, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.  If the good Lord is willing and the creek don’t rise, it will happen.

We welcomed to the world our third little girl a few years after our second. I was never really one to put myself out there, especially when it was something that I was uncomfortable with in the first place. But, I remember like it was yesterday the lactation consultant coming into my room after I had my little girl and asking if I wanted help getting her latched.  Normally I am very shy, especially when it comes to my body.  That particular day, however, I wanted to breastfeed so badly I didn’t care if she looked, held, touched or did anything of the sort with my breast as long as my child was getting fed my breastmilk. It was a moment I will never forget.

I still have regrets to this day about not feeding my first two babies breastmilk. I was very naïve about everything and, in a sense, selfish.  Being a mom changes you in ways that you could never imagine, and being selfish is not in the mom dictionary. Selfishness is turned into selfless. The amazing gift that I gave my third baby will not only be looked at as a way for me to feed her, but also as a life lesson for me.  Knowledge is power, and power can change the world. It is an amazing feeling to give the gift of a lifetime, for a lifetime.

Fall is for Making Memories

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Fall is my favorite time of year. The temperatures cool down and the trees show off their spectacular colors. For us, fall also means the traditional family camping trips. I did not go camping as a kid — this is something my husband and I wanted to do in order to start our own family tradition. We load up the camper and find a nice spot by a lake (it’s way too cold to go into the water, but the scenery is very nice!) and start up the campfire.

We love to sit around and share “fun” food like roasted marshmallows and laugh together. I use my WIC foods to make delicious soups in the crockpot that fill the camper with tantalizing aromas. The warm soup tastes and feels so good in the brisk fall air. We trade the sturdy wooden dinner table at home for a rough concrete picnic table that somehow, magically, makes the food taste better than ever.

We take long walks together under the brilliant fall leaves and talk about whatever comes to mind – forming bonds that will last a lifetime. We also bring along our bicycles and ride adventurous backwoods trails or simple campground roads. We stay low-key all weekend having no agenda but being together and being fully present with each other. For us, camping is a nice way to come back together as a family after the hustle and bustle of everyday life and make memories we will all treasure forever.

What traditions have you/will you start with your family to build memories that will last a lifetime?

The Crockpot: A Busy Mom’s Secret Weapon

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When I’m short on time or don’t have the patience to cook a full meal from start to finish, I bring out my trusty crockpot. A busy mom’s secret weapon, a delicious pot roast or stew is just around the corner, and all I have to do is put in all of the ingredients, add a bit of water, and turn it on before I leave for work. By the time my kids and I get home, it’s ready to be served and tastes absolutely delicious. A word to the wise: buy some liners to help with clean up!

Fall Farmers Market Veggies

Posted by | Blog, Inspiration, Let's Eat! | No Comments

When I used to think of a farmers market, I thought of the many fruits and veggies sold during the summer months, but that’s it. However, I took my kids to the market last weekend, and there were so many delicious veggies that are harvested in the late summer/early fall! I was so surprised! I talked to the vendor and he said that pumpkins, squash, green beans, and eggplant are just a few of the vegetables that are best harvested during this time of year. Even better, I could use my farmers market WIC checks to buy them! I can’t believe I just figured this out! I’ve missed so many chances to make healthy, delicious meals for my kids because I didn’t know this. Don’t make the same mistake I did! Use your WIC checks at your local farmers market this weekend!

Free to Breastfeed

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Breastfeeding isn’t always a cake walk, but after the initial teething stage – I really thought I had hit expert status. The Universe has ways to make us learn, though, am I right? Nobody prepared me for some of the more colorful moments that come with nursing a toddler like breastfeeding acrobatics, teething (again), or my early talker to spark comments from the old-schoolers about being “old enough to ask for it”.

I learned not to care if my girl was doing gymnastics besides me on the couch while latched. That high kick is on point, baby girl. I learned that I, too, can roll my eyes at things (or comments) I find absurd. Yes, my 18-month-old very clearly asked for ni-ni while pulling my shirt up. Throw that judgment elsewhere, folks. I’m just trying to feed my child over here. I also learned that a one minute time out from nursing can help with a toddler bent on chewing through a feeding. Best of all, these moments really make for hilariously sweet stories eventually.

In the heat of the stress, it can be easy to panic. Just try to remember that you’ll get through it, and likely laugh about it later. They’re infants for a year, toddlers for few more, then you realize your sweet, tiny baby is a full blown kid. You’re going to miss these days, savor them while you can.

Don’t Give Up!

Posted by | Blog, Breastfeeding, Daily Reassurance, Feeding, Inspiration, Keep Trying! | No Comments

She was about a week old, nursing every hour 24 hours a day. I had waited until I was 28 to become a mother, so I thought I had this in the bag, but here I was, almost 20% of my maternity leave gone, with engorged breasts and cracked, bleeding nipples. My partner would be going back to work soon. We had been supplementing a few ounces of formula every day, per the doctor’s orders, due to jaundice. As her bilirubin numbers got to a normal range, her pediatrician gave no encouragement either way, just information: we could stop supplementing if desired, or continue.

I wasn’t sure I could keep breastfeeding, and there was still plenty of pre-mixed formula the hospital sent home with us. It was like it was staring at me. I had researched parenting and feeding baby like a crazy woman, took parenting classes, and kept reading and hearing “breast is best,” but I knew plenty of babies who thrived on formula. I was on the verge of giving up and switching to formula, but my wise older sister and mother of three stopped in to check on my brand new baby girl and me.

I told her how I was feeling — the physical pain of breastfeeding, the exhaustion, the guilt over not being able to do it, and the temptation to give up. I asked how she managed to breastfeed three babies successfully because I wasn’t sure I was cut out for it. She was kind and told me how she never breastfed her oldest (she was only 20 and I was 8, so I must have been too young to remember). Her first breastfeeding experience was with her second child, and she said that is when she realized what she missed out on the first time around. She told me about how it gets better, that after the second or third week your nipples heal and the lovey-dovey hormones kick in. She explained proper positioning and latch (which was a game changer), and all the money you can save by breastfeeding.

Then she got very serious, put her hand on my shoulder and spoke to me in a way that only my big sister can, “You are going to feed this baby. Whether it is from your breast or a bottle, you feed her. Take it one day at a time, you can do it. But remember, this isn’t just about you. You’re a mother now.” I’ll never forget her words or that moment. I decided to stick it out, one day at a time, and she was right. With a little luck, I did it with no supplementation after 2 weeks. I started pumping at 4 weeks, back to work full time at 6 weeks. Pumping wasn’t my favorite, but thanks to brilliant federal laws, my job had to give me breaks and a private space to do it.

I stopped pumping at my one-year goal when the daycare switched her to cow’s milk, but baby girl had other ideas. We continued nursing at night and on the weekends, and night weaned at 17 months. She self-weaned a few months after her second birthday. Breastfeeding a child is one of the most amazing experiences — it’s almost magical. The end was so bittersweet for me, and I have to say, nursing my baby felt like the thing I was put on this earth to do.

Stand Your Ground

Posted by | Blog, Brave Mom Decisions, Child, Inspiration | No Comments

We hear it from virtually everyone that our children need to drink more water. Yet more often than not, no one can give tips on how to get our children to drink more water. When my oldest son was around 3 years old, we had to take him to the emergency room because he had rectal prolapse. Thankfully, it wasn’t major and was able to correct itself before the doctor even saw him, but his pediatrician told his father and I to make him drink more water. He is 3. How is it even possible to MAKE him do anything, let alone drink more water?

Yes, I can leave it in his cup and let it sit there all day, but why would I not give him something I know he will drink so he will stay hydrated? Well, that obviously wasn’t working like I thought it would. I knew he was drinking too much pop and too many sugary drinks, but how was I supposed to get him to drink more water? I’ve tried the flavor drops in the water and stopping sugary drinks cold turkey in the past and it didn’t work. I think it hurt me more than it did my kids.

So, I finally decided I was going to do what I felt worked for my family. It may not have been the healthiest way to go but it worked for us. Instead of letting the kids drink Dr. Pepper and sweet tea all day, I had to figure out a way to incorporate more water into their daily diet. So for every can of pop they had, they had to drink one bottle of water. I started out with the small bottles of water since they’re kid-sized.

Trust me, it wasn’t easy; there were times I wanted to give in because I was worried that they weren’t getting enough to drink. But I had to ask myself, “How will that can of pop help? It will just make things worse in the long run.” My advice is to stay strong and firm on your decision. It’s not always easy but in the end, it’s worth it!

After a couple of weeks of doing this (and yes, I mean a couple of weeks) all of my kids, including my 2-year-old and my bonus daughter (I don’t like the term “step”), now ask me if they can have a bottle of water when they are thirsty! It makes this momma smile ear to ear! (Don’t get me wrong, they still get a pop or glass of tea every now and then) .

Interactive Mealtimes Made Easy

Posted by | Blog, Feeding Time, Inspiration, Let's Eat!, Mom Time | No Comments

About once each week, we have a family style meal of finger foods spread out on a large cutting board. It looks a little like a fancy appetizer platter, but is so simple, healthy, and inexpensive to make. I like to use whatever I have on hand, which generally includes lean lunch meats (warmed up for pregos and toddlers), sliced or cubed low-fat cheese, whole grain crackers, grapes or strawberries (or any other cut up fruit), and raw veggies (we like carrots or cauliflower with just a little bit of ranch ;)). The beauty of this for your little ones is three-fold: Instead of getting a plated meal, with portions chose by mom or dad, they are listening to their bodies and hunger cues, stopping when they are full.

They also get to see their parents and siblings make healthy choices. Again, since it’s not a pre-portioned plate, they are allowed to choose their own foods, which can open up even the pickiest eater to try something new. Finally, we watch as our kiddos build their motor skills and hear them discussing the best combinations to try. In other words, we witness them connecting with others. #Familymealtime becomes an interactive event, filled with healthy, kid-friendly foods and conversation. And, it has a five-star added bonus: No cooking and no dishes to wash!

When You Know Better, Do Better

Posted by | Blog, Brave Mom Decisions, Child, Inspiration | No Comments

A friend shared her feelings of guilt with me about her almost five-year-old child’s recent dental appointment. Several cavities, two teeth to be capped, and a stern talking-to from the dentist for mom. The dentist asked, “Who is helping him brush his teeth?” She said her boy had been able to do it on his own since he turned three. “Nope,” the doctor said, “kids need an adult to brush their teeth for them, twice daily, until they are at least six years old!” I immediately felt myself flush with dreaded mom guilt. My girl was nearly three at the time, and while I brushed for her in the evening, I was allowing her to brush her teeth herself each morning. My friend and I agreed that we were only trying to encourage our littles to be capable and independent, but we were putting them at risk for tooth decay. Talk about a #momfail! But as Maya Angelou said: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”