Top Ten Reason NOT to Circumcise

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When my husband and I found out we were having a boy, our first reaction was unbridled excitement. A week later when my doctor was reviewing the ultrasound and found out it was a boy, her first reaction came in the form of a question. “So are you going to circumcise him?”

I have to admit, it wasn’t a topic I had given much consideration to. After all, daydreaming about nursery themes and baby names is a lot more fun than thinking about my son’s penis status. But like all of the less than ideal parts of parenthood, I knew I couldn’t avoid the issue forever. So what did I do? I talked to my doctor,  turned to family and friends for advice, and searched around online. I was hoping this would just be another one of those easy parenting decisions (you know, like the decision to feed the baby (yes!) or the decision to bath the baby from time to time (yes again!)). Boy oh boy, was I in for a surprise

Reactions ranged from “why wouldn’t you circumcise?” to “I can’t believe you would circumcise!” Arguments swung from wildly emotional to purely scientific. Personal biases ran rampant. Cultural and religious justifications added to the confusion. After my initial investigation, the only thing I was clear on was that both sides of the controversy believed they possessed irrefutable evidence for why their viewpoint was correct.

Facing this maelstrom of opinions, I did the only thing I could do—I put on my thinking hat and uncovered the facts for myself.

After weeks of research, sifting through evidence-based studies, reading the testimonials of medical professionals, and, probably most important, listening to the nagging feeling I had in my own heart, my husband and I decided NOT to circumcise our son.

At the time, I knew we had made the decision that was best for our family, but I was hesitant to say our decision should be applied universally to baby boys everywhere. Today, after educating myself even more about the topic, I would openly encourage all parents-to-be to pass on routine-infant circumcision and leave their baby boy’s penis intact. Want to know why? Here are my top ten reasons.

1) Important protective function

Human males, like all mammals, evolved to have a foreskin, and like most things evolution selects to retain, it serves a vital protective function. A good analogy is to think of the foreskin like the eyelid for the penis—it keeps out irritants, lubricates, and protects from abrasive surfaces.  Throughout childhood, the foreskin is attached to the head of the penis (glans) and covers the opening through which urine passes (urinary meatus), making contamination difficult. On the rare occasion that a contaminant does make it inside, the foreskin produces antibacterial and antiviral proteins to prevent infection, along with hosting a rich flora of good bacteria. Additionally, the foreskin creates the optimal environment for penile health by maintaining healthy pH levels, warmth, and lubrication, which prevents hardening (keratinization) of the skin.

2) Important sexual function

The foreskin is home to a high density of nerve endings and blood vessels that make it the most sensitive part of the penis. Couple that with the fact that it comprises about one-third to one-half of all the skin covering the penis, or approximately fifteen square inches, and it’s easy to see how removing it could impact sexual function. During sex, the foreskin helps to maintain lubrication, reducing vaginal dryness and making intercourse less abrasive for the female partner. Intact men are also significantly less likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction disorder, and their partners are more apt to experience frequent orgasms.

3) A murky history

The first documented case of circumcision appears on an Egyptian tomb dating back to around 2400 BC. While the exact purpose of circumcision is debated, hypotheses include: a religious sacrifice, a rite of passage for young men, a sign of social status, a way to alter sexual pleasure, or a health preventative measure. It gained popularity in Western medicine when two French doctors linked masturbation to a host of diseases like polio and tuberculosis. By circumcising boys, the doctors believed they could prevent masturbation and in turn, prevent illness. This same thought process was applied to a host of diseases and disabilities, and before long, circumcision became the new snake oil of preventative medicine.

Circumcision gained popularity in the Victorian-era United States amidst a climate of negative attitudes toward sex. It was believed that through circumcision sexual desires and promiscuity could be curbed, cases of rape reduced, especially the rape of white women by black men, and marriages saved. During the World Wars, rates increased as the military led a concerted effort to circumcise soldier serving in sub-Sahara Africa in order to prevent the spread of AIDS. In the period of prosperity following World War II, families chose to deliver their babies in hospitals where it was common to offer routine circumcision. Since most fathers were already circumcised, they saw it as only natural that their sons be too, thus passing on the tradition for decades to come.

4) Not recommended by any medical association

It’s true! There is not a single medical organization that recommends routine-infant circumcision. In fact, most organizations actively condemn the procedure. Take the KNMG for example, a Dutch medical organization representing 40,000 doctors. In 2010 they issued a detailed analysis stating that circumcision does not have the preventative benefits its supporters claim, does have real and clear risks, and is an ethical issue on par with female genital mutilation. The American Academy of Pediatrics, whose official stance is that preventative health benefits, “outweigh the risks of the procedure,” still does not recommend it for all male newborns.

5) The benefits are exaggerated

Most new parents will do anything if they believe it is in the best interest of their child, so when they hear things like ‘circumcision reduces urinary tract infections, the spread of AIDS, and penile cancer rates,’ it seems like a no-brainer. Unfortunately these sweeping statements only tell half the story.

Take UTIs for example. Your doctor would be correct in telling you that circumcision lowers UTI rates in boys. That’s a fact. It can’t be disputed. But the thing about facts is they only tell part of the story; they lack meaning without the proper context. What your doctor is leaving out by only citing this single statistic is that UTI infections are rare. They only occur in about 1% of boys under the age of one, a rate that is much lower than their female counterparts. When baby girls get a UTI they are easily treated with antibiotics. Now I may be in the minority here, but if I have to choose between administering an antibiotic or removing healthy genital tissue, I’m choosing the less invasive option.

What about STDs? Research found that circumcision reduces the risk of HIV by 47%. At first glance this seems like a compelling reason to circumcise. But if you look at the actual data, the risk decreases from 2.49% to 1.18%. Yes, that’s 47%. Again, facts can’t be disputed, but that 47% sure seems a lot less scary when you see the actual percentage of the population that is infected. Something else to note, all scientific research is not created equal (gasp!). Many medical organizations, including the AAP, point out that these studies, carried out in Sub-Sahara Africa with heterosexual men, are full of methodological flaws and are not relevant to the United States where most HIV cases result from homosexual contact or the use of contaminated needles. Similar studies carried out in the United States do not show significant reductions in HIV rates in circumcised men. Additionally, in many European countries where HIV cases are very, circumcision is almost nonexistent.

Let me reiterate, a single statistic does not tell the whole story. And even if it did, say even if the African HIV studies were accurate, promoting circumcision as a way to prevent HIV infection does a disservice to patients because it reduces the use of condoms and other safe sex practices

6) The risks are real

Common risks of circumcision include oozing or bleeding from the surgical site, infection, and irritation from exposure to environmental contaminants or abrasive surfaces. More serious risks, occurring in 0.2 to 0.6% of circumcisions, include damage to the opening of the urethra, the formation of scar tissue, the removal of too little or too much foreskin, excessive bleeding that requires stitches, and partial or full removal of the tip of the penis.

Even without suffering from any of these immediate risks, circumcision still impairs important physical and sexual functions that were discussed in previous points. It also can by psychologically damaging to the circumcised baby later in life, when he realizes the implications of his parents’ decision. Don’t believe me, a quick internet search turns up numerous message forums and websites set up solely for the purpose of talking through these issues with others who have experienced similar trauma. In an interview in Psychology Today, one man who was circumcised later in life expresses a deep regret over undergoing the procedure and mentions both a reduced libido and loss of sensation even with a complication-free surgery.

There is conflicting evidence surrounding whether or not babies experience psychological trauma as a result of circumcision. Some studies suggest circumcision can cause behavioral changes that interfere with parent-infant bonding and breast feeding. Others suggest that, even with local anesthetics, babies still experience pain during the procedure. More research still needs to be done. As a parent, I know it’s impossible (and probably not healthy) to shield my child from all potentially distressing situations, but unless I know the benefits are substantial, I sure am going to try.

7) He doesn’t have to look like everyone else

Would you let your child undergo plastic surgery if he thought his nose was too big? What about if he thought he was too short, too tall, too thin, too fat, too freckled, too…. This list could go on forever. As parents, we routinely tell our children to embrace their differences, so why then does this not apply to his penis—a part of his body that shouldn’t even be on display that frequently to begin with. I realize bullying is a very real concern for many parents, but making a major medical decision to avoid future potential teasing is shortsighted. It also sends the subtle yet very destructive message that the appropriate way to stop bullying is to conform.

What’s even more relevant to note is that compared to the worldwide population, circumcised men are in the minority. And with rates declining steadily in the United States, it might not be long before the same is true here.

8) It’s a violation of his rights

Unless it is medically necessary, circumcision is a cosmetic procedure performed for religious or cultural reasons. It violates a child’s right to physical integrity, to freedom of religion, and to protection from physical and mental violence. Many worldwide medical communities are taking a stand, issuing statements that condemn the practice. For example, The Royal Dutch Medical Association issued a statement that “children must not be subjected to medical proceedings that have no therapeutic or preventative value.” The Ombudsman for Children in Norway advocates that boys should not be circumcised until they are old enough to provide consent. The Central Union for Child Welfare in Finland calls circumcision “a violation of personal integrity” and ruled it unlawful in 2006. Many other countries are following suit.

Why then, in the United States, do we extend this protection to women but not men? Many argue there is a difference between female genital mutilation and routine male circumcision. While that’s true, it’s interesting to note that in cultures where female genital mutilation is still common, the rationales cited include many of the same used to support circumcision in male babies—hygiene, disease prevention, improved appearance, and social acceptance.

9) It’s his penis, not yours

As parents, we make hundreds of decisions for our children—whether or not to vaccinate, what kids of food we feed them, the types of medicines they receive. Many would argue circumcision falls under this umbrella of health-related decision making. I would disagree. The majority of the medical benefits cited for circumcision are only relevant to a sexually active, adult male. Circumcising a baby boy does nothing to prevent STDs (he’s not sexually active) or penile cancer (a disease that occurs most commonly in men over 55). Choosing to circumcise as an infant to prevent diseases only occurring in sexually active adults is premature and irreversibly alters a part of his body without his consent. Wait until he is an adult, and let him make the decision for himself. After all, he is the one who will have to live with the consequences of the decision.

10) It’s easy to clean an intact penis

There is a big misconception that an intact penis is dirty. The truth is, it’s only as dirty as you let it get. For babies and children, the best way to clean an intact penis it to leave it alone. An infant’s foreskin is non-retractile and self-cleaning. The fusion of the foreskin to the glans keeps dirt out and sterile urine washes the penis out daily. To care for the outside, washing with simple soap and water, the same way you would a finger, will suffice. It’s important to note that the foreskin should NEVER be retracted during cleaning, until it has retracted on its own. When this happens, usually by puberty for most boys, teach your son retract the skin and wash underneath with soap and water, the same way he would wash any other body part.

Still uncertain what to do? Why not wait and decide later? Circumcision can be performed at any time during a boy’s life. Completely undoing the procedure once it’s done, that will never be an option.

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Hello My Name is Oliver, and I’m a Bottle-aholic

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Oliver has been hitting the bottle hard lately, often consuming up to five drinks in a single day. What started as a harmless recreational habit has morphed into a full-blown, wake mommy and daddy up in the middle of the night screaming for more addiction. And as his sleep deprived, I’ll do anything to get you to go back to sleep mother, I often give in to his demands.

For the longest time I told myself it wasn’t that big of a deal—he’ll grow out of it eventually, right? At twelve months old, that white lie was somewhat believable. At eighteen months old, it’s morphed into straight-up denial.

Since admitting the problem is the first step toward solving it, I’ll say it. Oliver is a bottleaholic. And I, his mother, am his bottle-wielding dealer.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I came close to weaning Oliver off the bottle for good. After scouring the internet for weaning advice, we made a valiant one-hour stand, replacing his milk bottle with a cute, animal-adorned sippy cup, but were met with so much screaming that we decided it was easier to shamefully facilitate his addiction than intervene.

If you think the mother-child bond is strong, it’s nothing compared to the level of attachment Oliver has for his bottle. If that thing could also cook his lunch and change his diaper, I’m pretty sure I’d be out of a job.

After our first failure, I began searching for other like-minded, bottle-feeding mommies. Sitting in bed at night, my computer perched on my lap, I would read a message board comment to my husband. “See, this lady said her kid is five and still drinks out of a bottle.” Or my favorite, “this person says that your baby is only a baby for a short while and we shouldn’t be so quick to make him grow up.”

Meanwhile, Oliver’s dependency on his bottle just got worse. Shortly after recovering from his month-long illness, which in a previous post I fondly referred to as Coldmagedon 2014, he started to demand his bottle more and more, especially in the middle of the night.

A few nights ago, as I lay in bed on the brink of tears, listening to Oliver cry for what must have been the thousandth time that night (no exaggeration on that number), I thought to myself, so this is what it feels like to hit rock bottom. But then I remembered the other half at that expression—you can only go up from here. I’ll amend that to say at least it can’t get worse, because at the moment I wasn’t really sure how it was going to get better.

The next morning my husband and I mutually decided that we were going to go cold-turkey on the bottles. We were just done. No amount of screaming, hitting, kicking, whimpering, whining, or cute little scrunchy faces was going to get us to change our minds. I gathered all the bottles, tucked them away in Oliver’s closet, and drove to Babies R’ Us where I proceeded to clear the store out of every sippy cup style they had to offer.

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When I handed Oliver his milk-filled sippy cup later that day, he looked at me like I was handing him a cup of poison and angrily pushed the cup away.

“But Oliver,” I said in my sweetest, most nurturing voice possible, “this is a special big boy cup just for you. Yum. Yum. Yum.” I pretended to take a sip.

Oliver grabbed the cup, screamed, and threw it on the floor. I grabbed sippy cup model number two and tried again. Then number three. Then number four. And so on until the kitchen floor became a mine field of sippy cups waiting to spew their milky contents from their questionably “spill-proof” lids.

After freaking out about Oliver’s hydration level, calcium and protein intake, caloric needs, and my inability to comfort the screaming being in front of me, I did the only thing I could. I decided to give it time. I’d give Oliver a week to adjust to his new bottleless existence and then reassess.

The following week felt like a scene from a bad Western film—Oliver and I facing off, guns drawn, waiting for the other person to flinch. Neither of us was willing to surrender. By week’s end, with no progress made beyond a couple sips he took one day during a moment of weakness, we called a stalemate. I wasn’t willing to give him a bottle. He wasn’t willing to drink milk out of anything other than a bottle.

And who can blame him really? This was the first real loss his 18-month-old self had really experienced in life, or at least the first one he was cognizant of.

The interesting thing about weaning Oliver is that in the end, it was a lot less stressful than I imagined it to be. Yes, there was some screaming. Yes, there were tears. Yes, there were some nights he probably went to bed a little thirsty. But at week’s end he was still a happy, thriving toddler. In fact, he was a toddler that was eating more actual food, waking up less at night, and having a lot less digestive issues. And here I thought I’d be dealing with a starving kid who would never ever sleep again without his trusty bottle.

Could it be I was more attached than him?

Maybe Oliver will eventually waive the white flag and drink milk from a cup. Maybe he won’t. Luckily for me, I’ve come to realize that milk isn’t the Holy Grail of toddler nutrition, and I can still meet all his nutritional needs with a balanced diet.

For now I’m counting this as a success! Goodness knows I’ll need this win under my belt when round two, mommy versus binky begins.

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For those wishing to replicate my weaning tactics, I give you my 12-step program.

The 12 Steps

1) Admit your child is a bottle-aholic!
2) Admit your child is a bottle-aholic because you facilitated it.
3) Sulk for a few weeks and deny the problem.
4) Allow the problem to get worse.
5) Scour the internet for ways to wean your child.
6) Fail at your weak first attempt to kick the habit.
7) Become overwhelmed and scour the internet for other people to commiserate with.
8) Allow the problem to get worse.
9) Hit rock bottom.
10) Go cold-turkey.
10b) (Added per my husband’s request) Spend an entire day telling your husband you aren’t giving him bottles while you secretly give him bottles because weaning is hard. Feel guilty about lying, come clean, and actually go cold-turkey the following day.
11) Live through a week of tantrums, but stand your ground.
12) Celebrate! Your child is no longer a bottle-aholic

After completing the 12-step program:

1) Kick yourself for not going cold turkey to begin with.
2) Realize your child has a bunch of other bad habits your should work on breaking.
3) Return to sulking and denying—let’s deal with one thing at a time.

Mommy Confessions: Halloween Edition

Last Halloween Oliver was 3-months-old. We dug a Santa hat out of our Christmas decorations, took a picture, and called it a day.

This Halloween, at 15-months old, we are going all out. So far we have checked off trick-or-treating at the zoo, at the retirement home, and at the mall. With Halloween night right around the corner we aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. On top of wanting Oliver to get the full Halloween experience, I may have some other motives for our holiday gusto. For starters, since Oliver is on the verge of becoming an opinionated toddler, I view this as my one and only chance to have total say over what costume he wears. Next year he will surely revolt if I try sticking him in something this stinkin’ cute:

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And then there’s the matter of candy. I may be too old to trick-or-treat myself, but I’ll never be too old to appreciate free candy*. It just tastes better when you get it from complete strangers versus buying it yourself at the store. No?

As the mom of a too young to eat more than a couple pieces of candy trick-or-treater, I have a few confessions to make. I sincerely hope my son’s cuteness will make up for these if you happen see me at your door come Halloween night.

1) When I reach into your candy bowl to help Oliver make his selection, it’s only because I want that Reese’s that is hiding under the tootsie rolls and I do not trust Oliver to get it.

2) When my son innocently tries to grab multiple pieces of candy, there is nothing innocent about it. We have been working on his grabbing technique for months.

3) Likewise, if he rings your door bell again immediately after receiving his treat, he is simply utilizing yet another candy-accruing ploy I’ve taught him.

4) When I pick up and carry Oliver in between houses, it’s not because he’s tired. This kid just walks so darn slow and I want more candy!

5) After trick-or-treating Oliver will promptly go to bed so that his poor short-term memory will remove all recollection of said candy.

6) After setting aside all the suckers, I will then spend the next hour doing this:

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Happy Halloween all!

*Cost of “free” candy: $20 costume + $6 zoo admission + $1 candy bucket

 

Handprint of a 1-Year-Old

In my childhood bedroom there is a framed picture of my handprints from when I was little. Growing up, they hung ceremoniously above my bed, the clear focal point among the gaggle of teddy bears, troll dolls and Lisa Frank unicorns. While I don’t remember making the red-inked imprint, I do remember the daily game I’d play with them. Each night I would lean against the wall, reach up, press my hands against the smooth glass, and make note of how much larger, how much more “grown-up,” my hands were compared to the tiny girl that had made them.

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I loved those handprints. As a kid who was seldom aware of anything beyond the present moment, it was nice having that connection to the past. When a single bad day seemed to drag on forever, or I feared I would be stuck in the world of adolescent angst for eternity, I could hold my hands up to the glass and be reassured that time does pass, people do grow up.

As an adult, and especially as a mother, I have become acutely aware of how fleeting all things in life are. Time can’t slow down enough, and I often find myself wishing I had a pause button for life. Like my handprints that have remained eternally young, I wish I could take my son’s babyhood and frame it for safe keeping. His baby-tooth smile, his high-pitched laughter, his blonde ringlets, his chubby thighs and pigeon-toed walk. I want to preserve them all so that years from now I can look back and not only remember them but have something tangible to see, to touch. Something to press my hand against and compare.

When Oliver was born we received a gift that lets you make a yearly handprint of your child through the age of five.

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When Oliver’s first Birthday rolled around I eagerly pulled out the kit and got to work making the pasty concoction. According to the directions I mix the water and plaster, poor it into the provided tin, firmly press my child’s hand into the mixture, and then let it dry. Easy peasy. Right?

Wrong!

Nowhere in the directions does it say what to do if your child won’t straighten his hand in the plaster. What to do if he tries to scoop up a handful and squish it between his fingers. What to do if he tries to eat it. Or what to do if, upon finding it tastes awful, he flings it across the kitchen.

After several attempts, this is the best we could do.

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At first I was disappointed that I wouldn’t have the perfect imprint to remind me of his 1 year old hands. I was disappointed a year from now I wouldn’t be able to hold up his two year old hand in comparison. But sitting here now looking at this “handprint,” I’m starting to see all the things it will remind me of, all the secrets it will hold, that a normal, standard handprint never could.

It says, this is the handprint of an active boy. A boy who loves to touch, to explore, and to dig into his surroundings. One who isn’t happy sitting still waiting for life to come to him. It is the handprint of a curious boy. Of one who is always questioning, always learning, always dreaming, and discovering. It is the handprint of a boy who is tenacious and strong-willed. A boy who knows what he wants and won’t easily back down. It is the handprint of a playful, free-spirited, silly boy, who doesn’t need directions to tell him how to have fun.

So while you may just see a mess of plaster sitting in a tin, a tenuous outline of a hand at best, when I look at it, I see so much more.

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Have you tried making a handprint of your child? How did it turn out?

Advice For Exclusively Pumping Moms

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For the last twelve months, multiple times a day and night, I’ve had an intimate rendezvous with a double electric breast pump. It has been a love-hate relationship to say the least.

The pump never woos me with chocolate or flowers, and yet it’s groped my boobs more often than my husband. I shower it with praise for allowing me to nourish my baby, only to get into a screaming match at 3am when it decides now is a good time to conk out. I spend hours a day listening to its dull drabble (whirr whirr whirr whirr) and bemoan the time spent keeping it in good working order. I’ve even sworn on numerous occasions that we are breaking up for good; I am done pumping! And yet I keep coming back for more.

I made the decision to begin pumping after my son’s four week check up when we found out he wasn’t gaining enough weight. Because of reflux issues, Oliver spent a lot of time screaming and thrashing around while trying to eat, and all too often, a lot of what he did eat came right back up. Exclusively breastfeeding him became a nightmare. Most feeds were a battle of wills. I desperately tried to get Oliver to latch on, he desperately tried to do anything but that.

My husband would stumble out into the living room in the middle of the night to find both Oliver and I in tears. “I’m just so tired, and he won’t eat,” I would cry.

“Why don’t you let me give him a bottle of formula?” Brad would counter.

“No we can’t give him formula.” (Because, you know, it’s liquid poison and I’m a complete failure as a mom if we do).

“Well then I can’t really help you.”

And I desperately needed some help. So when the doctor suggested giving him expressed milk in a bottle a light bulb came on. I went out the next day, bought a pump, and instantly felt a sense of relief.

Since beginning this pumping journey (calling it a “journey” makes it sound much more exciting and glamorous than it really is) I’ve transitioned from just pumping enough to have a couple extra bottles, to exclusively pumping and then supplementing with some formula around the 8 month mark (note: baby did not die when ingesting formula). I love the freedom pumping has afforded me, and I don’t feel like I’ve sacrificed that “special bond” so many breastfeeding moms talk about. If anything, since I’ve started bottle feeding expressed milk, I’ve enjoyed much calmer snuggle time with my guy.

If you are considering exclusively pumping, or are just starting out, I’ve compiled a list of some of the more helpful information to get you going.

1) Get a high quality electric double pump. This is not the time to cut costs. The quality of your pump means the difference between pumping for 30 minutes to get 2oz and pumping for 15 minutes to get 6oz. The price of a double electric pump ranges from $150 to $350 depending on its features. I’ve had success with both Medela and Ameda brands, but ultimately prefer Medela for its superior suction and wide availability—meaning it’s easier to quickly replace lost or broken parts. A great website for researching breast pumps and reading reviews can be found HERE.

2) Check with your insurance company, many will cover pumps. Because why spend money on this kind of pump:

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…when you can spend money on this kind:

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3) If you aren’t sure about pumping, have a low milk supply, premature baby, or are trying to produce enough for multiples try renting one from companies like Medela, or check out your  local hospitals or lactation consultants like La Leche League. Most rentals are high-quality hospital grade pumps that would cost about $1,000 if you bought it on your own. Also, if you qualify for WIC it is often possible to get a pump through them.

4) To save time, during the day store pump parts in the refrigerator in between pumping sessions. Wash and sanitize them once at night. Trust me, the last thing you will want to do when finally getting baby down for a nap is wash pump parts.

5) Until your supply is well establish, around the 12-week mark, pump about every 3 hours, even in the middle of the night, even if you’re baby is still sleeping soundly (Yes, you have my permission to complain loudly while doing so. Make that loud enough to wake up your partner to let him know just how unpleasant waking up is). Once your supply is established you can slowly cut back sessions. At about 6 months postpartum I was only pumping about 5 times a day, and not at all at night, and was making about 25-30 oz/day.

6) Don’t agonize over having to supplement with a little formula here and there. The expression “breast is best” really needs to be changed to “breast is best…until it’s not…and only you can be the judge of that.” It’s not quite as catchy and a little long to fit on a bumper sticker but you get the point.

7) Make pumping hands-free by purchasing a pumping bra, literally a bra with holes in it (later lingerie use?), or make your own by cutting holes out of a tight sports bra that are large enough to accommodate the phalanges. Leopard print pumping bra anyone?

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Because never mind the baby vomit in your hair, you need to be fashionable!

8) If you aren’t going to use the breast milk in the next 6 hours (some say up to 8) then store it in the refrigerator for up five days. If you want to build up a milk stash try freezing the milk in ice cube trays and then storing them in large zip lock bags. Each cube is approximately one ounce so it becomes easy to unthaw just enough for your feeding.

9) To get the maximum output there are a number of things you can do.

-Make sure you have properly fitted phalanges.

-Massage your breasts while pumping.

-Alternate the rate of suction on the pump to stimulate multiple let-downs.

-Think about or look at your baby while pumping.

-And like with breastfeeding, get as much rest as possible, eat a balanced diet, and drink plenty of water.

10) Congratulate yourself daily. Pumping is a challenge, and whether you’ve been at it for a day, week, month, or entire year you’re a trooper. High five pumping woman!

11) If pumping ever becomes so stressful or burdensome that it is affecting your relationship with your baby or your mental health, STOP! Give yourself a day or two to evaluate if it’s the right decision for you, and then move on. A year from now your baby won’t remember whether he ate formula or breast milk, but you will remember the stress it caused. The positive memories you have of feeding your baby should outweigh the bad caused by an unpleasant pumping experience.

So pump on ladies! And when you’re ready to retire, give your pump a proper send off like Julie the Happy Home Fairy. I seriously need to start searching for a funeral plot for my pump.

Or I could just keep letting Oliver have his way with it and I’m sure it will eventually reach it’s own timely death.

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