Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Should you try a nipple shield for breastfeeding challenges?

Nipple shields are a little known breastfeeding assisting tool that can, if appropriate for your situation, make an enormous difference in a woman's breastfeeding success. I'll tell you my own story:

My twins were born 5 weeks early and were on feeding tubes in the hospital, with donor breastmilk, for the first week of their 15 day stay. I was pumping every three hours to get my milk to come and was able to try to breastfeed once a day. They were so little that it was very hard for them to latch, and their sucks were still not very strong. They were healthy for their gestational age, but they were feeder-growers - they just needed to sleep (to grow) and to be fed without expending their energy (feeding tubes). Once they came off the tubes, the struggle began, and we struggled to get them latched, struggled because it hurt, and it was just a lot. I had the lactation consultant on duty come around quite a few times while we tried to work it out, and finally it was suggested to me to try a nipple shield. A nipple what?

Because I met the recommended use for the shields, they made a remarkable difference for us. I also learned later that both girls had a tongue tie, and this was impacting their ability to latch as well. So for me, nipple shields were what we needed to establish a successful breastfeeding relationship with my girls, I truly believe that.

Nipple shields aren't right for every situation - but might they be right for yours?

What are nipple shields? 

A nipple shield is a thin silicon faux-nipple contraption that allows the baby to latch, but they're latching onto the shield and not directly on to your nipple. The letdown sensation still happens, and the baby learns how to feed from the breast while having a little extra help. This was the way my twins were actually able to breastfeed successfully. This nipple shield from Medela is the one I used and would recommend, if it turns out a nipple shield might be right for you.

Fun fact: An article in Breastfeeding Medicine reports that nipple shield use has been recorded for at least 500 years! Instead of silicon, they were made of wood, metals, or animal skins.

Why would I use one?

Nipple shields are recommended for:

  • Breastfeed a preemie baby
  • Latch difficulties due to physical problem (known or unknown)
  • Flat or inverted nipples
  • Other difficulties that would be suggested by a healthcare provider/lactation consultant. 

How do I get one?

Here's the caveat - it's really recommended that you work closely with your healthcare provider or lactation consultant to see if a nipple shield is right for your situation. They are not supposed to be a permanent fix; nipple shields are a short term aid to help you but ideally you would wean yourself and baby off of nipple shield use.

Nipple shields are sized, and for best results you'd have help figuring out which size is best from someone with experience.

Your midwife/care provider, lactation consultant, or possibly your physician, can meet with you, hear your story, concerns, and desires, and can watch you nurse to see if a nipple shield would be of help to you.

There are pros and cons to using a shield, and if you didn't actually need one but just needed an adjustment to latch, it would not be the best decision.

There is more to pay attention to while you're utilizing a shield, because the shields may impact milk supply and how much baby is able to take in. This article from Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC, of KellyMom, is comprehensive and informative.

Find a board-certified lactation consultant here. Many insurances will cover your visit!

If you think a nipple shield might help you successfully establish breastfeeding, then definitely reach out and advocate for yourself. My goal in sharing this is even if one mom reads this story and reaches out to try one, it might change the game for her. Sometimes it just takes one tweak or change in strategy to make a landslide of a difference.

More Resources:

When to consider nipple shields for nursing from Medela

Comprehensive nipple shield article from Kelly Bonyata, BS, IBCLC- including pros/cons, dos/don'ts, and how to wean from the shield.

Nipple Shields: A Review of the Literature, Breastfeeding Medicine, Dec. 2010

Check out other breastfeeding resources on the blog HERE. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Prenatal, Reborn: Ritual's new Essential Prenatal

I'm a Ritual ambassador and very excited to share their latest product launch with you: the Ritual Essential Prenatal multivitamin.

Essential Prenatal is a  multivitamin formulated to meet the needs of expectant mothers but is also great for pre-pregnancy and women of childbearing age or who are not on active birth control and may become pregnant (that's me!).

Growing a new human being requires incredible energy and greater amounts of certain nutrients. Most of us try and eat a balanced diet most of the time, but a good prenatal can help support pregnancy and lessen the risks of birth defects. Of course, talk to your healthcare provider first.

Why I am trying Ritual Essential Prenatal:
  • Transparency: Ritual's formulation is research and evidence-based with resources and references on their website, easy to find and easy to read. 
  • If you're thinking of becoming pregnant, starting Essential Prenatal helps your system to build up optimal nutrient levels in pre-pregnancy before pregnancy happens. 
  • Even if you're not trying to become pregnant but want to be prepared - 45% of pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned and critical development happens in the first 28 days, before most women even find out they are pregnant. 
  • Vegan Friendly
  • Free of gluten, GMOs, colorants, synthetic fillers, and allergens
  • No-nausea capsule design
  • It comes in the mail! No more forgetting to order. Set your subscription and it comes when you need it to. 
Intelligently formulated with mom and baby's health in mind: 
  • Essential Prenatal's nested capsule means fewer, smaller prenatal vitamins. It's two capsules in one, with just 12 ingredients. See all the ingredients here.  
  • One of the first of its kind to combine Omega-3 DHA with Choline.
  • No folic acid! Designed with the common MTHFR gene variation in mind, using Methylated Folate and B12 instead of Folic Acid and more commonly used cyanocobalamin B12, so the nutrients can be properly processed by all women to support neural tube development in the first 28 days of pregnancy.
  • No-nausea design capsule, which bypasses the stomach and releases in the small intestine, the most absorptive part of your gut.
  • Lemon-essenced, just like the original Ritual multivitamin. 
Check out Ritual's video for more information:

My thoughts:

I received my Ritual Essential Prenatals in the mail just before launch. I'm not pregnant or breastfeeding at the moment, but I am not on birth control and try to be ready for if an unplanned pregnancy does happen. The capsules felt just fine on my empty stomach and I do love Ritual's lemon-essenced capsules that sets them apart from other companies.

I also do not take any multivitamins that contain folic acid and was pleased to see that Ritual continued their attention to the more active forms in methylated Folate and B12.

Interestingly, Ritual did not include any calcium in their formulation. Why? According to Ritual's VP of Research, Dr. Luke Bucci:

"After months of research, we came to a surprising conclusion: Calcium doesn’t belong in your multivitamin. Instead, we found that you need four vital helper nutrients that are intimately involved and essential for maintenance of bone mass much more than Calcium. And if you’re pregnant, you still need those helper nutrients to get Calcium to where it’s needed most in your body, so we’ve included these helper nutrients in both Essential for Women and Essential Prenatal. If you’re nursing, you should talk to your doctor to make sure you’re meeting your unique Calcium needs."

This explanation aligns with what the research I've done (and that I've talked to my N.D. about) over the years and I'm happy that Ritual is taking the research into consideration. Because it would be easy to just say, "people expect calcium, so let's just put in calcium to keep people happy."

What I do appreciate about Ritual and what sets them above many other vitamin companies is their transparency and dedication to research and evidence, and how accessible they make it for their customers. The mailer box of vitamins comes with a pamphlet full of information about the vitamins, and you can visit their website and find out where they source their ingredients, why they chose them, and the research behind the ingredient inclusion. This is what vitamin and supplement companies of today and of the future SHOULD always be doing!

So, if you are thinking about becoming pregnant, actively attempting, pregnant already, or within childbearing years, please give Ritual's new Essential Prenatal supplement a try and let me know what you think in the comments below!

More references:

Prenatal Vitamins: Benefits, Side Effects, and How to Choose by Jamie Schehr, N.D., R.D.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

My Fall Fair Trade Favorites!

The new fall line from Trades of Hope is here and it is gorgeous! 

I am a Trades of Hope Compassion Entrepreneur (CE) and I really like the company and the solid, empowering work they are doing in the lives of women. Their price point is also right in my sweet spot where I can keep to my budget but also spend on something beautiful that's been made fairly and positively impacts women and families around the world.

So I'm pleased to share my personal favorite Trades of Hope items from the Fall 2018 line!


The Scarlet Clutch - made from embroidered cotton in Thailand. My favorite! 

Black Sundara Set - Iron black and gold candle holder set. Made in India 

Aqua Bracelet - made with Amazonite stone spaced with gold beads. Made in Thailand. 

Safari Sunset Scarf - 100% silk and made in Bangladesh. 

And while it's only October, some people are starting to THINK about the holidays, or maybe friends or families with winter birthdays. Give them a beautiful gift that makes a difference!

And if you are starting to see holiday decorations around the stores and want an alternative, Trades of Hope has got you covered! Like this Sari Star Garland...

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