Euphoria’s Blog for Green Mamas

advice, news & freebies

Breastfeeding in Hot Weather August 6, 2009

Filed under: Breastfeeding — Rachel @ 6:22 pm
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bloomstTemps are near 100 degrees all this week!  I am reminded of how breastfeeding in the heat can lead to a sticky situation.  Here are some tips for staying cool:

  1. Wear less.  A layered nursing shirt + nursing bra  + pads = one hot mama.  If the sun has you beat, consider picking up one or two nursing tops with built-in nursing bras.  It feels sooooo good to lose a layer.  My favorite, by far, is the Bravado essential nursing tank.  It’s made by a bra company (one of the best), so it’s really supportive, even for bigger gals.  It also comes in bra sizes and lots of colors!  This top is also perfect for sleeping – so you can get use out of it all winter long.
  2. Don’t Cover Baby.  When feeding baby in public or among friends, even a thin nursing cover traps in heat.  Skin to skin contact with your baby is going to make both of you sweat… but you don’t have to wear a blanket.  Slurp & Burp nursing covers cover your breast, not baby.  They make breastfeeding discreetly possible in any top.  It’s an extra layer for you, but at least your baby will be able to breathe!
  3. Drink up, Mama!  People used to recommend giving a baby straight water, in addition to breastfeeding, during hot summer months.  Now we know that amazing breastmilk actually adjusts to have a higher water content at times when baby needs more hydration.  So, don’t give baby a bottle.  Just be sure you drink up!

Criticism & Your Response when Breastfeeding an Older Toddler July 2, 2009

Filed under: Breastfeeding — Rachel @ 2:28 pm

position 1There’s a great article on (which you really should visit, if you haven’t already!) for mamas who are breastfeeding an older toddler.  By the time your little one is about 16 months old, you’re likely to get odd glances and surprised questions if you continue to breastfeed your child in the States.  When and how you wean your child is a very personal decision, one that should be made by each mother and child without pressure from strangers or friends.  When the Weaning Police Come a’Knocking, by Shea Adelson, shares some  great tips for dealing with criticism, including surrounding yourself with like-minded mamas, knowing the health benefits, trusting your instincts, and being prepared with a response.

It’s that last part, “being prepared with a response,” that most moms really wish they had down.  Here are Shea’s suggestions:

Crafting Your Response

  1. Start with getting clear about your reasoning by asking yourself some questions such as: Why do you breastfeed? What is important or meaningful to you about it?
  2. Then consider what comes up for you. When it happens, what feelings do you experience? Possibilities include anger, embarrassment, hurt, annoyance, and confusion, among others. Dealing with your inner voices can dilute that feeling of being charged.
  3. Finally, think about what you want to happen in a moment of criticism and the words you might use to get that result. Do you want to embarrass the person back (ha!), or educate them, or politely change the subject?

Once we have the answers to some of these questions, the words will flow. And, as always, when we are feeling emotionally triggered, it can help to pause and collect ourselves before responding so we can be as effective in our communication as possible.

I love that, in conclusion, Shea reminds us to practice forgiveness.  “Remember that most judgment and criticism comes from ignorance.”  So true.  Criticism is always hard to take, but each instance is an opportunity to share something new with the other that may change their life.


Pollution Undermines YOUR Ability to Breastfeed June 20, 2009

Filed under: Breastfeeding,Pregnancy — Rachel @ 5:43 pm
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When I was pregnant with my first child, I read “Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood“.  Having been raised with little concern for the environment, this was THE book that opened my eyes to exactly how significantly environmental pollution effects my life, and the life then growing within my womb.  Sandra Steingrabber shares the story of her pregnancy, birth and new motherhood, with complete honesty about the bumps along the way and with humour that really carries the story along.  Meandering throughout the tale are scientific insights into the way the environment effects pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.  I’d venture to say that most mindful mamas would love the book!  It’s an inspiring and empowering story.

I was reminded of “Having Faith”  this morning, as I considered sharing with you some depressing news.  Scientists have recently learned that dioxin exposure during pregnancy can reduce growth of breast tissue necessary for breastfeeding by about 50%.  According to the report, it gets worse:  dioxin alters milk-producing genes, resulting in fewer mature lobules and ductal branches which make and deliver milk.  So, that means less breast growth and improperly developed milk ducts.  Sigh…  And we wonder why so many well-meaning mothers struggle to produce enough milk for their babies.

What is dioxin?  It’s a chemical bi-product of many manufacturing processes (like bleaching paper and fabrics) and of waste incineration at factories, municipalities and homes.   During such processes, dioxin is released into air and water.  Humans are exposed routinely when breathing and in some of the healthy foods we eat.  Specifically, dioxins tend to build up in the fat of livestock and fish and in the fatty portion of dairy products.  But, pregnant women are NOT to attempt to reduce their intake of these healthy foods!  Dioxin exposure is also a concern with the use of bleached tampons.

Basically, scientists and health experts are saying there’s little any pregnant woman can do to reduce her personal dioxin exposure immediately.  What we CAN do is support legislation that regulates industries and municipal waste incinerators that contribute greatly to the pollution.  Also, don’t burn garbage at home, avoid buying bleached products (tampons, disposable diapers, sheets, etc), and reduce waste by recycling and composting. 

To read more about the effects of dioxin, see Chemical Stops Breasts from Growing Bigger.


Breastfeeding the Newborn May 9, 2009

Filed under: Breastfeeding — Rachel @ 7:01 pm
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My mom is lucky enough to be in California right now, helping out my sister who gave birth to a newborn on Monday.  We just chatted about how everything is going, and she asked me some questions about breastfeeding.  My sister hopes to breastfeed this little one longer than she’s managed before.  Here is some advice I gave her in response to her questions:

  • Skip the Night Bottle idea.  Although it sounds so nice, letting your partner feed baby at night while you get some much-needed sleep isn’t usually a good idea.  In reality, mom will awaken when baby cries for that 3 am feeding.  She’ll have to wake her partner (who is likely to sleep right through it all) to remind him to go fix that bottle.  Off he goes to the kitchen to measure, pour, warm and return.  All the while, baby is crying and mother is… what?  Sleeping while her baby cries?  Probably not.  Holding the baby?  Maybe.  Whether holding or lying still, her milk is definitely letting down and filling up those nursing pads.  All that milk is wasted while she tries to sleep through baby’s noisy gulps.  Now, even if she manages to get into a sleep-through-it-all routine, this itself is still a potential problem.  In order to keep up her breastmilk supply, she needs to be feeding baby or pumping every time baby wants to eat.   By sleeping through one feeding every night, she sets herself up for milk supply problems, all the while allowing her frozen milk supply to dwindle. 
  • Introduce the Bottle around 2 Weeks.  It’s smart to allow mom and baby to grow good and dependent on regular breastfeeding before introducing the bottle.  2 weeks of feeding on demand, with no breaks, will set mom up for a good milk supply.  It also gives baby plenty of time to learn how to latch on before introducing a whole new skill – bottle feeding.  But, don’t wait too long.  By 3 weeks old, introduce the bottle!  Bottle feeding early on lessens your chances of ending up with a baby who won’t take any bottle.
  • Start stocking up on milk now.  Where does the breastmilk for that first bottle come from?  Mom can pump, in addition to her regular on-demand feeding.  But, that’s going to be a lot of hard work!  The easiest way to get a few bottles of milk stowed away is to collect milk during feedings those first few weeks (and beyond, if it works for you).  To do this, place a breast shell on one breast before starting to feed baby.  Feed baby on the opposite side, and watch as your letdown fills up that shell.  Keep cleaning the breast shell between feedings and emptying it into a refrigerated bottle.  At the end of the day, freeze what you’ve collected, which may be a half to a full bottle, depending on your letdown.
  • It’s fine to use a pacifier.  Although experts used to worry that early pacifier use may interfere with establishing breastfeeding, studies have shown that this is not the case.  Apparently, even a newborn gets the difference between an object used for self-soothing, non-nutritional sucking and mom’s breasts – the source of food.  If you plan to use a pacifier, don’t hold back.  Go ahead and let baby suck to sleep!

The Perfect Nursing Pillow March 31, 2009

Filed under: Breastfeeding — Rachel @ 6:21 pm
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Breastfeeding is being available, loving, stopping, resting and giving.  Breastfeeding is all the time, everyday and every night.  It’s something you may desire to do for months or years.  It’s a beautiful commitment, but not without it’s challenges.  I breastfed both of my children exclusively from day one.  Could I have done it without a nursing pillow?  I suppose so, but I liked it so much that I owned more than one!  Here’s my story.

I registered for a Boppy pillow.  Doesn’t everyone?  Moms and magazines praise it like a miracle device.  “It’ll save your back,” they say, “and baby will use it for tummy time and learning to sit too!”  My pretty pink Boppy looked nice in the nursery, but quickly showed its faults when baby was born.  Because it is so firm, the Boppy cannot mold to your body or your baby.  How do women keep it in place?  I felt that the moment I placed my baby on it things started sliding about.  Baby would slide towards my breast, face squishing in until I worried she couldn’t find air.  The Boppy would slide away from me, with the baby’s body finding its way into the growing space between me and the pillow.  I tried different positions for both of us, but nothing seemed to help.  Using a nursing pillow should be easy, right?  My arms shouldn’t be busy adjusting or securing the pillow.  Eventually I eyed the curved, rounded top of the Boppy with suspicion.  Why was it rounded?  How could my baby help but slide off of a curved, very firm surface?

My mom had brought home a My Breast Friend pillow, “Just in case.”  It was everything Boppy was not:  a little softer, but not too soft; a flat surface for baby to lay upon without sliding; and equipped with a strap that goes around your back, fastening with velcro so that the pillow stays right against your belly, where it belongs.  It was ideal, and I used that badly-named pillow every single time I nursed at home, even at night.  I could totally relax.  My arms where completely free.  Ahhh….  The Boppy was exiled to grandma’s house.

Along came baby #2.  My Breast Friend Pillow was back, times two.  I purchased a second so that I’d have one on each level of our new two-story home.  I used it constantly.  I washed the removable cover as needed, never realizing that the yellow foam core inside was entirely toxic.  It wasn’t until I was nearing baby #2’s first birthday that I found out about the dangers of polyurethane foam.  Most baby mattresses are filled with polyurethane foam.  We purchased a new, organic mattress for my baby, but I didn’t realize that my Breast Friend nursing pillows are made with polyurethane foam until it was too late. 

Of course, I felt guilty.  Day after day, hour after hour, I’d cozied up with my precious little one over a lump of toxic, air-polluting foam.  And polyurethane foam is that bad.  Really bad. I share the sordid details in my article Toxins in the Nursery at  But, one cannot undue the past.  We can only share the news with others.  To that end, I searched for “the perfect nursing pillow”, one that would work well, but was made of pure, safe ingredients.  emailpillowWe added the Blessed Nest nursing pillow to our website and never looked back.  It’s made entirely of organic cotton and filled with organic buckwheat hulls – pure, simple materials from nature – materials I can trust.  The Blessed Nest pillow is also flat.  The nature of the buckwheat hull filling is somewhat like a beanbag.  It molds to the body, but offers strong support.  As such, it stays still and no one slides off.. hooray! 

So that’s it, that’s my story of the perfect nursing pillow.  When you choose your pillow, just make sure to avoid polyurethane foam at all costs and to choose a pillow that’s relatively flat on top.  Babies aren’t meant to slide.  If you’re not sure about those buckwheat hulls, a flat nursing pillow that’s filled with organic cotton (like the Organic Caboose Nursing Pillow) is another good choice.


Top 10 Benefits of Breastfeeding March 24, 2009

Filed under: Breastfeeding — Rachel @ 5:30 pm

An excellent refresher on why we all want to breastfeed, from Pregnancy & Newborn magazine:

1.  Build Immunities.  Breast milk decreases the incidence and/or severity of many infectious diseases.

2.  Lose Weight.  Breastfeeding burns an average of 500 calories a day, so the pounds melt away faster than that pint of Ben & Jerry’s you’re eating.

3.  Bond with Baby.  Bonding over a bottle works too, especially for daddy, but the intimacy of nursing is unequaled.

4.  Reduce Risk of SIDS.  Post-neonatal mortality rates in the United States are 21 percent lower in breastfed infants.

5.  Fight Cancer.  Breastfeeding decreases your risk of breast and ovarian cancers.  Mothers who breastfeed also have a reduced risk of osteoporosis later in life.

6.  Save Money.  Formula costs around $150 per month, so start a college savings plan for your little one (or buy a new dress!) with the money you save by breastfeeding.

7.  Keep it Simple.  No bottles and no warmer necessary means you’re ready to feed your baby any time, any place. (If you’re concerned about privacy, consider a nursing cover).

8.  Start Smart.  Studies propose breastfed infants have higher IQs.

9.  Save Time.  Who wants to wash bottles when you could be playing with your newborn or taking a nap?

10.  Play it Safe.  Research is continually revealing more benefits of breastfeeding.  Recent studies suggest breastfed babies may have less risk of obesity and lower cholesterol levels as adults.


“Failure to Thrive” January 15, 2009

Filed under: Breastfeeding — Rachel @ 2:38 pm

Pediatricians.  Ugh… sometimes they can be just awful.  Like, when they throw the “failure to thrive” statement at you and suggest supplementing with formula because your 5 month old baby only gained 1 ounce the past month.  A dear friend of mind just came home teary-eyed from just such an appointment, and asked me for advice.  Here is what I wrote:

“No matter how you feel when at the doctor’s, remember that you know your daughter better and love her more than anyone else.  You are educated and can figure out what’s best for her.  Go with your gut… 

As to only gaining an ounce in a month, I will speak my mind here.  So what?  Babies do NOT grow in a perfect curve like the graph at the doctor’s office.  They’ll grow a lot and then stop for months.  A baby can be tiny all through infancy (like Aria, they were always worried about her being too small) and then become “standard” size in preschool years (like Aria has).  I say, DON’T LET THEM SCARE YOU!  It sounds like your gut tells you that you should let her nurse as long as she wants.  This is a good idea.  Now that your nipples are broken in, it shouldn’t bother you too much.  Yes, getting an herbal tea like this: may help, and won’t hurt.  Also, make sure you’re getting enough rest, drinking tons of water and eating lots of nutritious food and even healthy fats (nuts, meat, beans, veggies).  Your emotional perspective on this can make a big difference.  Try to be positive and confident that you MADE her with your body and you can sustain her too. 

As your gut is telling you, don’t supplement.  It’s only a temporary fix and will lead to weaning earlier than you want.  I truly believe that slightly less breastmilk  is better than going more and more to formula, which almost always happens when people supplement.  If you hold on and do what only you can do (breastfeed) your body will ramp up milk production, if that’s what she needs.  She’ll gain when she’s ready. 

“Failure to Thrive” is a ridiculous term for your daughter’s situation.  They don’t know how much she SHOULD grow in a month, they’re only making a statement based on averages.  I know that you’re feeding her, cuddling her, singing to her, wrapping her, smiling at her, carrying her, talking to her – these are things that make a baby thrive.  She IS thriving, because you love her.”