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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My Morning Routine

Mornings are nuts… always. I plan and prep and rise early to ease the burden, but they’re still dependably bordering on mayhem.

Nearly every day, we venture out for a morning activity and an afternoon activity. Whether it’s preschool, a class at the community center, storytime at the library, a playdate, a walk, a bike ride, a visit with family, or an errand, the kids (and I) do best if we’re out and about often. As Hubs frequently works from home, this provides him with some much-needed quiet time in the otherwise noisy house too.

As the kids get hungry for lunch between 11:00 and 11:30am, we generally need to be out the door for our morning activity by 9am. Here’s what I do to make that happen.

My days start sometime between 5:45am and 6:15am. I brew my green tea, grab my apple, turn on the local news, and pump. By 7:00am #3 is awake and sometimes #1 is too. Hubs brings down #3, changes his diaper, and plops him in the pack-and-play.

Out of sheer pride, #3 disputes his confinement until the local traffic newscaster comes on TV. At which point, he goes quiet and smooshes his fat face against the mesh wall, staring at her like he’s the creepy drunk dude at the end of the bar.

While #3 is distracted, I throw my breast pump parts in very hot soapy water to soak, then bag, label, and freeze the milk. #3 is usually shrieking at me from the pack-and-play by the time I close the freezer door. (The traffic portion is clearly too short for his liking.)

I pour a second mug of green tea, nurse #3, then upstairs we go. I fill our big soaker tub with and inch or so of water and plop #3 in the bath surrounded by floating toys, so that I can get ready for the day.

By 7:45am, I’m toweling off #3 and dressing him. #1 is downstairs usually watching “Dora”, at this point, while lazily eating the breakfast I prepped the evening before.

By 8am, I’m helping #1 do her hair. (If you’ve ever met #1, you know she takes her hair seriously.) As a curly girl myself, I get it.

During the hair routine, #3 is usually trying to eat conditioner, unrolling toilet paper, attempting to lick the toilet, and slamming the bathroom door against my leg. Sometime just before I awake #2 but before #3 manages to French kiss the floor vent, I call Hubs to fetch him to feed him the breakfast I prepped the prior evening.

After successfully styling #1, it’s time to rouse #2. It’s a feat. He loves his bed. We moan and growl our way through the process but, by the time he’s dressed, he’s happily skipping down the stairs to eat his pre-prepared breakfast.

8:15am, I blend the smoothie I prepped the night before, use the second mug of now-luke-warm green tea I had forgotten on the counter to slug down my vitamins, yell at the heathens to stop jumping around like chimpanzees and eat their breakfasts, and — if I’m lucky — pour myself a bowl of Cheerios with cashewmilk. Between bites of cereal or sips of smoothie, I finish feeding #3, clean up breakfasts, rinse my breast pump parts and pop them on the drying rack, then clean up the disaster that is #3’s breakfast area. (Eating is an all-sensory event for #3.)

By 8:30 I am checking #1 and #2’s breakfast progress as I put #3 in the playroom to roam about. I start setting out shoes and jackets, while giving the kids a warning that we’ll be heading out soon. 8:40 is “5-minute warning” time, and at 8:45 #3 is getting his diaper changed, #1 and #2 visit the bathroom, we pull on socks and shoes, squabble about what toy #2 can bring with him in the car, and off we go negotiating who gets to open the minivan door.

People ask me why I get up so early. How could I not? It’s survival.

Wrangling 5 Under 5

Yesterday I took on two additional kids — yes, that means I was watching five children under 5 — for 4 hours. My dear friend had an unexpected move thrust upon her. So I offered to watch her daughters so she could pack uninterrupted.

My friend’s 2-year-old daughter — we’ll call her A — has autism as well as some additional special needs. As a sibling of a special needs individual, I feel at home with the scenario. Well, apparently A was comfy too.

The kids had a blast playing outside, crafting, having a dinner-and-a-movie picnic in the playroom, and A was my cuddly sidekick through it all. She curled up beside me as I nursed #3, she rode on my hip as I loaded the dishwasher, she called me “Mommy” (purely a vocational title, of course) and reached up to me with her perfectly pudgy hands,  then she’d wrigged down to go join the others.

At one point, as I nursed #3, A pulled her pint-sized self up onto the playroom sofa, wiggled herself next to me, spotted #3’s legs sticking out from underneath my flowy top, smiled at me through her pacifier, and laid her blond head in my lap using #3’s belly as a pillow.  It was precious.

#1 adopted A as her own little sister, giving A overzealous hugs and drive-by kisses. A reveled in the attention and pretended to braid #1’s long, blond, curls.

#2 bopped about playing with #1 and A’s older sister, M. #2 and M discussed unicorns and caterpillars, sweeping techniques, and lemonade stand protocol.

M advocated beautifully for verbally-challenged A, yet played perfectly imperfectly and indepently with #1 and #2. She was so tender with #3, even when his slobbery baby kiss turned into a nibble. She was herself — smiles, grumpiness, goofiness, and all — and that was wonderful. She didn’t get lost in her older sibling duties. She felt comfortable enough to be herself.

One of my favorite aspects of the playdate, though, was how it brought out the best in all of us. It enabled our strengths to shine. When Hubs beamed, seeing A happily adjusted to her surroundings, I remembered exactly why I love that man so much. When #1 sat on the deck floor so that A could style her hair, my heart thumped. When M and #2 became enveloped in their imagination game, I grinned. When #3 gave kisses and hugs to A and M, who warmly accepted his juicy affection, I glowed. When A adapted so quickly and became so affectionate, my heart swelled. When M proclaimed she wanted to stay, I was honored.

It was a nutty afternoon but it was beautiful. What a gift these children are!

 

 

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!

 

Bad Days

“So, I found a drive-thru vasectomy place.” Hub’s comment about sums up our day. The level of exhaustion anf frustration at the end of a very bad, very long kid-wrangling day is maddening.

#1 was snarky and stubbornly negotiating like a lawyer. #2 was  throwing one screaming fit after another. #3 was getting into everything and started a lovely phase of shrill chimpanzee-like shrieking.

I sit nursing #3, listening as Hubs bathes #1 and #2. It’s not going well. Both have had treat priveleges revoked for the next day and they haven’t even rinsed out the shampoo yet.

I don’t know how I’ll make it through the last half-hour before bedtime. I don’t know where I’ll gather patience for tomorrow. But I’ll do it. I always do.

Nursing session is done. Kids are bathed. Bedtime. #1 asks me to cuddle with her and tell her a bedtime story. I put my head on her chest. I feel her ribs rise and fall as she tells me which story she wants. I feel her excitement as I begin. She puts her hand on my shoulder as I reach the end. I kiss her soft, soap-scented cheek and wish her sweet dreams. “I love you!”

I am restored.

 

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!

Diaries of a Nursing Mom

1) During a morning kid bath — utilized solely for the purpose of entertaining and containing #1  and #2 while I got ready for the day — #1 pretended to nurse Mermaid Barbie. “I’m the mommy,” she said to #2, “you’re the daddy. You can’t feed the baby.” “Well, if the mommy pumps breast milk into a bottle, the daddy could feed the baby,” I remind her. “Hand me the bucket, please,” #1 demands of #2. #1 places the bucket beneath her nipple for a five-count: “Here’s the breast milk,” she says as she hands the bucket to #2, “Now, you can feed the baby.” Then #1 cradles Mermaid Barbie back to her chest to “nurse” as #2 pretends to bottle feed his doll.

2) #3 bit me… HARD. (Three exclusively breastfed babies, months of pumping for my own children and, then, solely for donation; I’m no peach blossom.) “My kiss it and make it better.” #2 offers. I thank him but tell him Mommy will be OK. #1 reprimands #3 for biting: “Mommy feeds you. No biting!” Then I fish two shards of wicker basket from #3’s mouth. The basket from which I had just shooed him away because he likes snapping apart the woven pieces. Lovely.

3) #3 is experiencing a growth spurt, which means he nurses All. Night. Long. When he awakes in the morning, roughly 20-30 minutes after his last feeding, he greets me with a huge smile and a happy squeak. It’s as if he hadn’t been suctioned to me for most of the night. He’s either senile or charming, I’m too tired to know which one.