Photo Tutorial: Using and Nursing in the Ergo 360

I nurse in my Ergo 360 multiple times daily. People often ask how I do it. So, I’ve created a photo walk-through of how I put on and nurse in the carrier.

HOW I PUT ON MY ERGO 360

1. Pick up the carrier and fasten the hook-and-loop portion of the hip belt tightly around your hips, allowing the front panel to hang upside down in front of your legs while you do this.

Fasten the hip belt around your hips, allowing the front panel to flop down in front of your legs

Fasten the hip belt around your hips, allowing the front panel to flop down in front of your legs

2. Fasten the clip portion of the hip belt.

Fasten the clip portion of the hip belt

Fasten the clip portion of the hip belt

3. If needed, tighten the hip belt by pulling the tether.

If needed, tighten the hip belt by pulling the tether

If needed, tighten the hip belt by pulling the tether

4. Lift the front panel of the carrier and place your arms through the shoulder straps.

Lift the front panel of the carrier and place your arms through the shoulder straps

Lift the front panel of the carrier and place your arms through the shoulder straps

5. Fasten the shoulder blade clasp. (I recommend having this adjusted to your preferred tightness and positioned at a reachable clasping height by a companion the first time you wear the carrier and then NEVER loosen or move the strap. It’s challenging to adjust on your own.)

Fasten the shoulder blade clasp

Fasten the shoulder blade clasp

6. Pick up your baby, with him/her facing you.

Pick up your baby with him/her facing you

Pick up your baby with him/her facing you

7. Place the baby in the carrier, shimmying him/her down into the carrier pouch.

Place your baby in the pouch, shimmying him / her down into the carrier pouch

Place your baby in the pouch, shimmying him / her down into the carrier pouch

8. Check that the baby’s legs are properly positioned in the leg holes.

Check that the baby's legs are properly positioned in the leg holes.

Fasten the hip belt around your hips, allowing the front panel to flop down in front of your legs

9. Hold baby up in the carrier so that you could easily crane your neck down to kiss the top of his/her head. Tighten the shoulder straps individually to maintain this positioning.

Hold baby up in the carrier so that you could easily crane your neck down to kiss the top of his/her head. Tighten the shoulder straps individually to maintain this positioning.

Hold baby up in the carrier so that you could easily crane your neck down to kiss the top of his/her head. Tighten the shoulder straps individually to maintain this positioning.

10. Release your hold on the baby and further tighten the shoulder straps if needed.

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Release your hold on the baby and further tighten the shoulder straps if needed.

HOW I NURSE IN MY ERGO 360 

1) Loosen the shoulder straps

Loosen the shoulder straps

Fasten the hip belt around your hips, allowing the front panel to flop down in front of your legs

2) OPTIONAL: Put on your preferred nursing cover.

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OPTIONAL: Put on your preferred nursing cover

3) Shift baby and the carrier pouch to the side on which you intend to nurse.

Shift the baby and the carrier pouch to the side on which you intend to nurse.

Shift the baby and the carrier pouch to the side on which you intend to nurse.

4) Unclip your nursing tank/cami and latch on the baby.

Unclip your nursing tank/cami and latch on the baby.

Unclip your nursing tank/cami and latch on the baby.

5) Tighten the shoulder straps until everything feels secure.

Tighten the shoulder straps until everything feels secure.

Tighten the shoulder straps until everything feels secure.

Hands-free incognito nursing… ta-da!

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Nursing Tank Must-Haves

I wear a nursing tank daily. Wear it under a cardigan, blazer, kimono, slouchy top, flowy blouse, tunic, or hoodie. Layer on a scarf or chunky necklace. Tuck it into a maxi or skater skirt. Wear it with jeans or yoga pants. All the while, have easy clip-down nursing access and bra-like support.

My favorite two nursing tanks are:

Bravado Dream Nursing Tank which comes in bra-specific sizes from 34B/C to 40F/G.

Bravado Essential Nursing Tank which comes in bra-specific sizes from 34B/C to 44F/G.

A variety of color options can be found on Amazon. Get one (or more) in every color in your size. I know I did!

A Day of (Dairy-free) Galactagogues

Galactagogues are foods that boost breastmilk production. Some people swear by them, others see no impact. Either way, the foods are generally healthy, filling options.

Here’s an example of what a day full of dairy-free lactogenic foods looks like:

AM Pumping Fuel:

A mug of green tea and an apple help me start the day. (If you want to really amp up the milk supply, you could substitute fenugreek tea for the green tea.)

Green Tea and an Apple

Green Tea and an Apple

Breakfast: 

A big serving of water along side a bowl of quinoa and flax hot cereal, topped with blueberries, a touch of vanilla extract, a drizzle of honey, and a hearty dash of cinnamon is a nice start on days I don’t feel like having my usual smoothie.

Quinoa & Flax Hot Cereal with Water

Quinoa & Flax Hot Cereal with Water

Snack on the Go: 

A Dark Chocolate Chunk KIND bar with water is easy, portable, tasty, filling, and (importantly for me) dairy-free.

Dark Chocolate KIND Bar and Water

Dark Chocolate KIND Bar and Water

Lunch:

Lots of water with roasted portobello mushroom stuffed with a veggie-packed grain salad topped with hummus (Veggie-ful Grain Salad ingredients: dressing- oil from the drained artichoke hearts mixed with balsamic vinegar; salad- raw chopped fennel; raw chopped English cucumber; drained, rinsed, and chopped canned beets; drained and rinsed canned chickpeas sauteed in extra virgin olive oil, tumeric, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt, and pepper; julienned jarred roasted red peppers; drained (oil reserved for dressing) and chopped jarred artichoke hearts; a dollop of olive spread; Wegmans Food You Feel Good About Sunrise Blend (wheat bulgur, buckwheat groats, quinoa flakes, and red rice) prepared according to package instructions with garlic powder, salt, pepper, and a bay leaf in the boiling water)

Roasted Portabello Mushroom Stuffed with Veggie-ful Grain Salad Topped with Hummus

Roasted Portobello Mushroom Stuffed with Veggie-ful Grain Salad Topped with Hummus

PM Pumping Fuel:

A mug of green tea, two pieces of Bark Thins Dark Chocolate Coconut, and water, because everyone deserves a treat.

Bark Thins Dark Chocolate Coconut and Green Tea

Bark Thins Dark Chocolate Coconut and Green Tea

 

Snack:

More water and half a sandwich (extra virgin olive oil, avocado, tomato, salt, pepper, nutrional yeast, and sprouts on one slice of Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread) is a satisfying, healthy snack. Make sure to throw back some water too!

Half of an Avocado-Sprout Sandwich

Half of an Avocado-Sprout Sandwich

Dinner:

Lots of water and smoked chicken with roasted veggie pasta (Roasted Veggie Pasta Recipe: chopped fresh fennel, red onion, zucchini, baby bella mushrooms, tomatoes, carrots, and bell pepper are drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with salt, pepper, basil, and fennel seeds. The veggies are roasted then stirred together with cooked pasta. The mixture is drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and a bit of the startchy pasta water, then seasoned with fresh minced garlic, as well as garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, brewers yeast, and nutritional yeast.)

Smoked Chicken with Roasted Veggie Pasta

Smoked Chicken with Roasted Veggie Pasta

“Blue Boobed”

Blue boob

/bloo,boob/

Verb: the act of a breastfeeding baby causing breast milk letdown but refusing to consume the triggered milk, resulting in painful breast engorgment.

“The baby started to nurse then got distracted and blue boobed me.”

Being blue boobed by your own baby is like nursing torture. Engorgment anxiety, like hangriness (aka: hunger-induced anger), is real. The discomfort and frustration of having milk letdown just to have it painfully pool, uneaten, leaves you with three choices:

1) Try to convince your baby to nurse. Though this will likely end up failing and milk may very well end up spraying everywhere. So you’ll probably look to options #2 and #3.

2) Go ahead and grab the pump. This is only an option if you’re in a location where pumping is feasible, of course. What would’ve taken your baby 3-5 minutes to extract, will now take 15 minutes — plus pump part washing and drying, as well as milk bagging — to eliminate via the breast pump. Thanks, nursling!

3) Try riding it out. You could ignore the engorgment and anxiety, but this could end up a milky mess. You could also wind up with a nice souvenir, every nursing mom’s favorite: clogged milk ducts.

Oh the joys of breastfeeding. Keep on milking on!

Unclogging a Clogged Milk Duct

As a breastfeeding and pumping mom with oversupply, milk duct clogs are my jam. Here are my tricks for getting those painful (and potentially harmful) buggers out:

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My Tried and True Method

1) I take ibuprofen and Sunflower Lecithin per the manufacturer’s instructions (please consult a physician before taking any medications.)

2) Take a warm shower and let the water fall on the affected breast

3) Under the water, firmly massage from the clog toward the nipple

4) After the shower, grab your breast pump and a vibrating device (either the mechanical portion of your pump if it’s handheld, an electric toothbrush, a massager, etc.) and pump while holding the vibrating device on the clog. (Add in extra stimulation and letdown phases to your pumping session to ensure as much milk is released possible.)

5) Nurse your baby on the affected breast.

6) If still clogged, place a washcloth in very warm (not scalding) water mixed with Epsom salts. Apply the soaked cloth to the clogged area. Re-soak and reapply 5-6 times.

7) Pump with the vibrating device or breastfeed again.

Once the clog has been released, repeat steps 1-5 at least once a day for three days to ensure the duct doesn’t re-clog.

** Of course, if you experience intense pain, fever, chills, and/or redness at the clogged site, immediately contact your physician. **

Happy milking!

 

My Superpower

#3 nursing away a fever (10mo)

#3 nursing away a fever

Nourish, comfort, protect, heal… breastfeeding is my super power. It’s amazing to be able help my little one fight off viruses, regulate a feverish body temperature, and provide nutrient-dense, easily digestible food straight from my body when teething makes chewing painful or an upset tummy doesn’t allow anything else to stay down.

One does not realize the full-body effort of nursing until the morning after an all-night nursing binge. Despite providing sustenance for hours straight, your breasts are engorged and ready for more.You wake up exhausted in every way, starving, thirsty, sore, achey… it’s as if you ran an overnight marathon. What did you really do? Lie on your side as your little one nursed like a piglet All. Night. Long.

Breastfeeding is messy, it’s laborious, it’s taxing, it’s beautiful, it’s miraculous, it’s a gift. Keep on nursing on!

Milk Donation: Labor of Love

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780oz (6 gallons) of breast milk for donation

Milk donation… it’s an ancient practice to share one’s breast milk with another’s child. However, somewhere along the way it faded into a fray movement… a suspiciously regarded practice associated with pachuli-scented hippies and cloth-diapering baby-wearers. I am none of those things (I rest somewhere around a 4 on a 1-10 scale of hippiness). Though, I do wear #3 as a matter of survival since I have yet to sprout a third arm. Mainly, I am a believer in sharing one’s excess with those in need.

When I sort through my pantry and donate boxed and canned goods to my local the local food pantry, no one bats an eye. When I donate old housewares and clothes to charity, no one flinches. When I donated my hair, others asked for details so they could follow suit. When one gives blood or agrees to be an organ donor, society regards the act as socially responsible. However, when people hear I donate my surplus breast milk — 20oz daily that accumulates, unused, in my chest freezer because my littlest eats straight from the tap — to a mom who cannot make enough, despite her phenomenal efforts, people get twitchy.

Moms of young children who have nursed and/or pumped breast milk are generally impressed and express interest. Individuals who have not nursed or were brought up when formula companies were heavily marketing their product as being “better than nature” often respond in disgust, trepidation, and/or bewilderment. Honestly, though, I don’t care what others opinions are on the topic (though I wish for wider acceptance and awareness, of course); their opinions won’t hinder my donations.

“Why don’t they just use formula?” Some quip. Formula isn’t always a feasible option. Some babies can’t or won’t drink formula, and some families simply do not prefer to use formula (just as some families choose not to breast feed.) Often, babies who are sensitive to dairy ingested by their breast milk provider also react to soy-based formulas. In these circumstances — if the mother cannot produce enough breast milk or is waiting for dairy to leave her own system so she can provide her own breast milk for her child without causing him/her pain, or if the dairy-sensitive child’s guardian is not a lactating female — a milk donor who does not eat dairy products is the route to go. As a dairy-free donor, I donated thousands of ounces to nourish such children.

“Isn’t it risky?” People ask, citing concerns over disease and bacteria. Milk-sharing is an informed risk, like consuming raw seafood or eating bake sale goods. Donors who have been screened by milk banks — milk banks are an option for some recipients to use as a means to receive donated milk, though it would be costly and not all qualify — complete medical screening akin to blood donor screening. Milk banks take a further step by pasteurizing the donor milk. Milk recipients can pasteurize milk at home, if desired. However, many pathogens are eliminated when the milk is frozen, as is the standard method for donor milk to be delivered to recipients.

“You can’t trust people; how do you know the milk you’re receiving is safe?” If you receive donated breast milk — which is different from purchased breast milk — you are being given breast milk from a mother who (except in cases of infant loss) is providing that same milk for her own child. That mother is providing you with milk she had either originally pumped and frozen with the intent of feeding it to her own child, or she is pumping the breast milk purely for donation in addition to nursing her own child. Each pumping session takes 15-45 minutes, this does not count cleansing the pump parts or bagging and freezing the milk. The mother is doing this without receiving any repayment and often loses money due to milk bag and pump parts costs. It would be incredibly bizarre for the donated (not purchased) milk you receive to be anything but pure breast milk, pumped with the loving intention of nourishing a child.

“It’s body fluid. Eww!” First of all, breast milk is not equal to blood, stool, or urine. Breast milk is created solely to nourish a child; it is food. Breast milk is filled with antibodies and has amazing antibacterial properties, thus enabling it to be surprisingly resistant to spoilage. Cow’s milk is just as much a bodily fluid as human breast milk.

The main thing to remember when seeking a donor or when becoming a breast milk donor is: open, honest communication. Recipients should feel free to ask potential donors about medical history, dietary habits, drug and alcohol intake, etc. Most donors welcome and expect these questions, as long as they are asked graciously and respectfully of course. Similarly, donors should feel free to ask why the milk is being sought, how old the child is, etc.

Breast milk donation

Bagging 320oz of frozen breast milk

Oversupply, despite its downfalls (clogged ducts, risks of mastitis, engorgment discomfort, frequent pumping, etc.) is a gift for which I never would have asked but for which I am immensely grateful. I cherish being granted the opportunity to help nourish another’s child, to have my oversupply make sense considering others struggle with production, to have amazing families become a part of my life by way of milk-sharing. Milk-sharing has enabled me to turn an otherwise bothersome medical anomaly into an immensely rewarding service.

If you know of anyone interested in milk donation, whether as a recipient or as a donor, I am more than happy to be a resource. Milk-sharing is a fulfilling way of sharing love and excess with others. Aiding others in beginning their own milk donation journey is an undertaking I adore. Share on!

Moo: How I Pump

“You have 3 under 5. How do you have time to pump milk for donation?” It’s a question I get all the time. The answer: I make time.

I’m a type-A planner with an affinity for routine. I’m also incredibly stubborn and goal-oriented. So, when I tell myself I am going to pump three times a day, I pump three times a day.

I wake up between 5:45 and 6:15, depending on how much sleep I got the night before, and I pump as the house sleeps. After lunch and once the boys are down for naps, I pump again. During this time, my 4.5-year-old plays independently. Finally, once the kids are in bed and I’ve showered, I pump while my husband and I catch up on our favorite shows.

Routine and planning are how I am able to pump daily and donate to my “milk baby.” Now it’s just a part of our family rhythm, like bedtime stories and dinnertime tantrums.