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This App Is A Childcare Game-Changer

This App Is A Childcare Game-Changer

Finding a babysitter that you feel comfortable with—especially if you’re a new parent preparing to leave your child in someone else’s care for the first time—can be challenging. Enter Bambino!

Bambino is a free, membership-based babysitting app that asks parents and sitters to login with Facebook to confirm their identity and connect with friends inside the app. Bambino then connects users with sitters that their friends recommend.

The more friends you have in the app, the more sitters you’ll be connected with, and the more useful the app will be for you. Bambino also allows payment of sitters through the app.

To learn more, visit bambinoapp.com!


9 Fun And Active Parent And Me Wellness Classes Around NYC

9 Fun And Active Parent And Me Wellness Classes Around NYC

Photo courtesy of Aquabeba

Staying active after having a baby can be hard without the right babysitter and the right schedule. Between taking care of another human being and yourself, being a mom is time consuming, and sometime staying active falls on the back burner. But with the right classes, staying fit is combing with baby bonding time to fit into your busy schedule. Here are some of the best [arent and me wellness classes around Manhattan and Brooklyn for even the busiest of parents.

Mommy and Me Fitness NY

Owned by fitness trainer and fellow mom, Meri, Mommy and Me Fitness helps new moms stay active while connecting with their babies. The class challenges moms by including diverse workouts that include lunges, squats, jump rope, and jogging. Also, the classes incorporate the environment and location to keep participants on their toes. Meri’s certifications include American Council on Exercise, AFFA Group Fitness Instructor, Pre and Post Natal Fitness, and Community CPR and AED, among others. mommyandmefitness.com


Strollercize has been connecting new moms and babies while helping them get back in shape since the 90’s. The class incorporates the use of strollers into everyday workouts for new moms. Elizabeth Trindade, a personal trainer and former ballet dancer, originally started the program. Over the years, it has grown to several different cities in the United States and overseas. The program has attracted moms from over to NYC for three-day training courses and more. For an intense workout with a well-known mommy personal trainer, Strollercize is for you. strollercize.com


The Y is home to many fitness and exercise classes and other extracurricular activities for everyone to enjoy, especially moms and their babies. The 14th street Y hosts several fitness classes targeted at new moms and babies in a warm and welcoming environment that aims to create a community for moms and babies alike. Courses include Postpartum Pilates with Baby, Mommy and Me Barre, New Body, New Baby! New Moms Fitness Class, Mommy and Me Yoga, and even personal training for new moms. Classes are free for members but are $90 for non-members and $20 for a trial run. 14streety.org

Park Slope Yoga Center

PSYC has been a Park Slope staple since 1998. It includes classes that cater to all phases of being a mother, including prenatal and postnatal classes. The postnatal, Parent/Baby yoga classes include two instructors to ensure both the parents and baby get the attention they need. The recommended age for babies is 3 weeks-22 months old. It is for every kind of parent from those just wanting to get out of the house to those just wanting to get in shape. parkslopeyoga.com

Harlem Yoga Studio

Known for being community-oriented, Harlem Yoga Studio offers some of the most affordable mommy and me yoga classes in the city. Located on W 125th street, HYS offers weekly donation-only community classes and donation-only prenatal classes. They also offer Postnatal Baby and Me classes that provide gentle stretching and deep breathing with your baby and give your baby its first taste of yoga through movement and massage. HYS also encourages community among moms and has been serving Harlem and Upper West Side communities and families for years. harlemyogastudio.com

BellaVita Kids

BellaVita takes its wellness brand a step further by incorporating fun, interactive classes with BellaVita Kids. It aims to offer families the opportunity to connect and improve their health while having fun. Classes include Get Movin’ BellaVita Kids and Family Yoga. Get Movin’ BellaVita Kids includes school partnership classes like Creative Movement, Yoga, and Dance, Creative Movement, Dance and Yoga Basics, and Zumba Kids. Their classes are fun for the entire family. bellavitaworld.com

Discovery Programs

For a more nurturing environment, Discovery Programs’ Mommy and Me Yoga may be more up your alley. With goals that aim to “address each child’s unique interests and needs” and “provide a truly nurturing environment where each child is respected and encouraged,” Discovery Programs is the place to be. For Mommy and Me Yoga, babies are encouraged to be between 6 weeks and 8 months old when taking the class. The center provides yoga mats for those who cannot bring their own and the fee is $20 per class. The instructor, Shayna Skarf, is definitely one to admire. She specializes in Hatha, Prenatal and Postnatal, Mommy and Me, Toddler, Child, and Teen yoga. discoveryprograms.com


For the water babies and water mommies, try Aquabeba. Founded by Dominic Krvavac, member of the 2000 Serbian Olympic swim team and Serbian record holder of the 50m, 100m, 200m backstroke, Aquabeba provides a soothing, comfortable, and nurturing environment for both mommy and baby. With two locations in the Olive Park and Viridian neighborhoods of Brooklyn, they offer a salt-water pool at the Viridian location for those parents that wish to avoid chemicals and include as little chlorine as possible in the pool at the Olive Park location. They also offer prenatal swim classes for moms-to-be that seek a safe environment to swim in while also providing a support group for current moms and moms-to-be. Classes start at $230 for a five-week class session. aquabeba.com

Asphalt Green

Asphalt Green is a nonprofit organization assisting individuals through sports and fitness and with community service. Their classes include training, yoga, and aquatics, among others. They provide classes for all ages and skill levels and work to advance participants in their skill levels. For their Water Babies classes, they seek to introduce babies to the joy of the water and work to build water-based motor skills in a warm-water teaching and exercise pool. Babies are encouraged to be at least 4 months hold before starting class. asphaltgreen.org


Serving the community for over 160 years, the YMCA has become a New York staple. With numerous classes to cater to every New Yorker’s need, it only makes sense that they also offer some of the most affordable Parent/Child swimming classes in NYC. Their swim classes range from introductory to independent classes for babies 6 months-36 months. Classes start at $64. ymcanyc.org



Why You Need To Prioritize Quality Postpartum Support

Why You Need To Prioritize Quality Postpartum Support

Every Wednesday between 12-12:15 pm I check in with the mothers who have come to take post-natal yoga. While many different women have cycled through in the past 15 years, many of the issues, concerns, and complaints remain the same. Feeling overwhelmed, completely depleted, disconnected from their core and pelvic floor, breastfeeding issues, and backaches grab the top spots in our discussion.

Many of these women express feelings of being cast aside after the birth of their baby. Prior to the arrival of their child, focus was on the mother’s well-being with frequent visits to her care provider. For most, the next visit with her care provider is the “six-week check up.” A lot can happen in those six weeks that the mother then has to navigate on her own.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) produced a review of maternal death in the US, Building U.S Capacity To Review and Prevent Maternal Death. In this document, the Maternal Mortality Review Committee (MMRC) carefully explains the six key decisions used to examine each maternal death. Based on this criteria the review has reported the highest incidence of pregnancy-related death happens within 42 days (six weeks) after giving birth, with non-Hispanic black women being the most vulnerable. The study states: “We have learned that between 20-50 percent of maternal deaths in the United States are preventable through the work of MMRCs.” Overall, the leading causes of pregnancy-related death accounting for 72.2 percent of all pregnancy-related deaths include:

  • Hemorrhage (12.7 percent)
  • Cardiovascular and coronary conditions (12.7 percent)
  • Cardiomyopathy (11.4 percent)
  • Infection (9.5 percent)
  • Embolism (9.5 percent)
  • Mental Health Conditions (8.9 percent)
  • Pre-eclampsia and eclampsia (7.6 percent)

Are women and partners equipped to recognize postpartum depression or unusual swelling or headaches that could be an indication of pre-eclampsia and eclampsia? Likely not.

Given the gap in time between women being discharged from the hospital and their next appointment with their doctor or midwife, many rely on their care provider at the time of birth and the discharge and postpartum nurses at the hospital for careful instruction and guidance as to what to expect in these first six weeks. However, a recent study, Nurses’ Knowledge and Teaching of Possible Postpartum Complications, published in the American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing disclosed some frightening facts about the support and guidance women receive before discharge from a hospital with only 67 percent of RNs spending less than 10 minutes focusing on potential warning signs. There was also a massive lack of knowledge from the nurses themselves about the leading three causes of maternal mortality.

Once the mother finally arrives at the anticipated six week appointment, it is often a quick check-in and then clearance is given to return to sex and pre-pregnancy activity. From the women I have spoken with, many did not receive any information or screening about Postpartum Depression at this meeting, a check for abdominal diastasis (separation of the rectus abdominal muscles) or discussion about the health of their pelvic floor other than a verbal prescription to start to do Kegels. An obstetrician I spoke with recently revealed that OBs do not get paid for these follow up visits and they are usually only scheduled to be six minutes long. This swift and superficial meeting can often leave women feeling unsure of what constitutes “normal” and what their new body should feel like and.  This insecurity can just adds to the stress of new motherhood.

Students often say “I cannot get rid of this belly” or “I feel a heaviness in my vagina” or sheepishly reveal incontinence issue.  These issues can affect one’s quality of life. With a desire to heal and change the situation, women may unknowingly start an exercise routine that can actually worsen some of the issues they may have developed.  Crunches for example, can exasperate abdominal diastasis and belly binding can cause pressure on the pelvic floor resulting in pelvic organ prolapse. Some women eventually take it upon themselves to find treatment, often an out of pocket expense, with a physical therapist who specialize in women’s health.

While the US leaves women at the helm of their own recovery while simultaneously embarking upon new motherhood, other countries have developed comprehensive postpartum care routines. In France, postpartum women are routinely prescribed “la re-education perineale,” 10-20 visits of physical therapy designed to retrain the pelvic floor muscles, to be followed by “abdominal re-education” after the pelvic floor sessions are completed, if necessary. In the Netherlands, women regardless of where they birthed, immediately receive a post-natal in-home care service called kraamzorg. The role the kraamvezorgster, post-natal care nurse, is similar to that of a postpartum doula, minus the preparation of meals and light housework. For up to eight days, new mothers have their kraamvezorgster available to help the mother with breastfeeding, teach the parents how to bath, swaddle and diaper the baby, help partners learn how to support the mother and also act as a buffer between new parents and visiting guests.

What can we do?  Force the hand of your care provider–come in with a list of questions for the care provider to address. Yes, this is going to require some gumption on the mothers part and let’s face it, as six weeks postpartum, the mother may not be at her most feisty. Here are some questions to start with:

  • Please examine my pelvic floor and let me know if there is any prolapse, if any tears have healed properly, if my pelvic floor seems supportive, is my bleeding normal?
  • Please examine my abdominal muscles and let me know if there is any abdominal diastsis.
  • Please talk to me and my partner about postpartum depression and red flags we should be concerned about.
  • Please discus birth control with me – lactation shouldn’t substitute birth control!
  • Please talk to me about proper nutrition while breastfeeding.
  • Please talk to me about what to expect for my first menstruation cycle.
  • Please check my breasts–is everything normal after all the change?
  • Please provide me with references for lactation support
  • For those who birthed via cesarean, please examine my incision to see how it is healing

In time I hope that the US can better support women and families. Many politicians boost about the importance of “family values,” unfortunately though, many women are not feeling valued and this lack of support is hurting families, babies, and children. Until we see change in our country, women will need to continue to support one another and ask loudly for help when needed.

Debra Flashenberg is the founder and Director of the Prenatal Yoga Center. She is a certified labor support doula, Lamaze Childbirth Educator, and certified prenatal yoga instructor. She is continuously in awe of the beauty and brilliance of birth and is the proud mother of her son, Shay and daughter, Sage. Visit prenatalyogacenter.com for more info!

Strap In For Safety

Strap In For Safety

September is Baby Safety Month! To raise awareness about important baby safety topics, we turned to our friends at the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) for vital info on keeping baby safe using the safety straps that come with many piece of baby gear.

Keeping your baby safe and well is your number one goal as a parent so it goes without saying that you take every precaution when creating a safe environment.  But unfortunately, falls are still the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for all young children in the U.S. In fact, approximately 8,000 children are treated in emergency rooms for fall-related injuries every day. With these staggering statistics, be confident that you are doing everything right when it comes to your baby’s safety.

What Can You Do?

Direct supervision is a sure-fire way to prevent injury – watch, listen and stay near your child.  Strap In For Safety! Child safety devices, like safety belts and straps, should always be used when available. Straps and safety belts on baby gear reduce the risk of infant fall injuries.

Whether it’s in the home or on the go, learn how to properly use straps on a variety of products and the importance of correctly using them EVERY time in order to keep baby safe.

On The Go

  • All strollers come fitted with standard safety harness straps.
  • Use straps at all times, even if it’s a short trip.
  • Harness straps stop the child from climbing out of the seat and falling, and protects the child should the stroller tip over.
  • Safety straps should be used regardless of the child’s age.
  • Many strollers feature a five-point harness system, which features straps that secure over each shoulder, at both sides of the waist, and in the middle of the legs.
  • It is important to always use all straps, not just lap straps or shoulder straps alone.

In The Car

  • A snug strap should not allow any slack.
  • It lies in a relatively straight line without sagging.
  • It does not press on the child’s flesh or push the child’s body into an unnatural position.
  • Chest clips should be positioned mid to upper chest area, near armpits. Shoulder straps fit snugly–can only fit 1 finger between harness and shoulder or use pinch test.
  • Lead by example. Make sure the whole family buckles up!

At Home

  • Babies should always be buckled into swings and bouncers.
  • Both use either a three- or five-point harness to keep baby as secure as possible.
  • For swings, use a five-point harness whenever possible to keep baby from climbing or rolling out of the seat.
  • Always buckle baby into the changing pad. If your changing tray is on top of a dresser, be sure they attach to each other securely.
  • When changing, keep one hand on the child at all times, even when using safety straps and keep supplies within arm’s reach.


  • Always use safety straps whenever your child sits in the high chair.
  • Make sure the straps are well secured so that your child sits snugly and is not wriggling around in the chair.
  • The crotch strap prevents your child from slipping down.
  • Never allow your child to stand in the high chair.

Visit babysafetymonth.org to learn more about creating the safest environment for your baby!




Latham Thomas Wants You To Own Your Glow

Latham Thomas. Photo by Erica Berger Photography


Mama Glow founder Latham Thomas is a renowned doula, yogi, author, and wellness maven (and mama!) and her second book, Own Your Glow: A Soulful Guide to Luminous Living and Crowning the Queen Within hits shelves on September 26! This must-read for NYC mothers is packed with lifestyle tips, calming rituals, and meditations, all with the aim of “illuminating your path to examining life’s challenges, helping you curate your path to greatness, while embracing your uniquely feminine attributes.” It’s all about guiding readers in practicing self-care in order to empower and discard self-destructive habits.

To learn more about this empowering read, we caught up with Thomas this summer to get the scoop.

What inspired you to write this book? Why the topic of “owning your glow”?

When I wrote this book—it took me years to write it, just because there’s so much to say and there was so much life experience that needed to happen to put into it—I wanted to write something that could feel like a companion for women, to feel like I was holding their hand as they made this life journey and life transition into claiming their power, the same way that I hold someone’s hand during a doula journey. Much I the way that I wrote Mama Glow, it’s like a friend talking to you but it’s also really firm and knowledgeable. The voice is very similar in how I speak to people, but the feeling of being held by someone as you take this journey to transform into your very best self was a through-line that I wanted to have, to help people feel very supported in this path to claim their power.

If you had to describe one goal with this book, what would that be?

My primary goal is for women to embrace self-care as a pathway to empowerment, to learn to love their bodies, and to really appreciate the magic and wisdom their body has to teach them, and to really explore the dimensions of their genius and get to the bottom of what they want to be doing in their lives—whether that’s professionally or creatively. Some of us want to give birth to babies, and some of us have dreams of career paths or different creative exploits that we want to explore—and some of us die with that inside of us because we don’t let that come out. I believe that we have this gift that’s a light inside of each of us—and it’s relentless and shining and it wants to connect. I think that Own You Glow is about owning that light and letting it lead you through the world. I want women to take with them that they are capable and they are powerful and they’re awesome—no matter what it is, they can get it done—but our culture sets up to think that we need to move through life in a certain way, and it’s mostly by pushing and hustling, but we really need to slow down and be intentional and nurturing of our ideas and all these potential things that are growing within us. I’d rather see that kind of energy embraced by women—“let’s nurture, let’s slow down, and let’s cultivate,” rather than “let’s hustle, let’s push, and let’s force.” But that’s kind of what we’re doing in New York City, we’re pushing.

It’s divided into sections called Evoke, Ignite, and Embody. Why did you structure the book that way?

I see it as the progression where you’re inviting an energy in and stirring it up, and that’s like evoking and awakening. Then igniting is once we realize that we have this energy within us, it’s about setting it ablaze. And embodying is about becoming. So it’s a progression of awareness to becoming awakened to becoming activated and then becoming a power source, where you are the starting point in the beginning of a movement. For us to claim that for ourselves, we first have to turn it on to begin with. I also wanted people to know there was a flow—we’re headed some place as we read it, so that’s also why I did it—so people wouldn’t skip ahead. I want readers to do the exercises and the meditations and the rituals and get all of the information. And once you get to the end, you can come back to the beginning and do it all over again. But I wanted people to go through stages and grow from it.

I loved the emphasis on rituals and ritual objects. What are some rituals that you have?

All of us have things we hold dear and creating spaces to explore personal growth—you have to create space for that—and for me, it’s about setting up little altars throughout the house to remind me of the support I have in the world, like people who are here with me or who have passed, as well as energy that I’d like to drum up. I feel powerful and there might be people in life whom I’ve known or whom I’ve never met [who contributed to that] and I want to evoke that energy in myself. I also use a lot of crystals or sage…fresh flower and things that remind me of nature and joy and love and safety and security. Things that remind me of a life of abundance? I’ll keep those things all around! I also find that part of my ritual includes things like essential oils and scents. I use things like that in practice, whether it’s meditation or birth. I also find that choosing a time of day to do something and doing it over and over is very helpful. For me, it’s a morning ritual and an evening routine that makes me settles down into the night. It can be meditation or deep breathing or a movement exercise; or it can be prayer or journaling or running a hot bath. Rituals extend into my self-care practice, which I call Glow Time… A big thing I talk about in this book is putting yourself fist. And people say “but that’s selfish”—and it is, but you can’t give to others if you don’t give to yourself.

Is there anything that moms specifically should know about the new book?

For moms, I have a great section about food—it helps you structure how you can create powerful meals really quickly. I also have some guidelines for how you can become better in the kitchen and take more responsibility in that area. In my work, I see so many women who are on the precipice of change…there are so many women who are right there and they’re becoming, and I watch them deliver their babies and then launch businesses. What I think is really beneficial to moms is the whole first section that talks about “what is it that you’re dreaming of? What do you want to achieve? What are things that are impediments to that?” It also goes into how you can own your glow. I think owning your glow is also owning your story and what your story is today.

To learn more, visit mamaglow.com!





How To Get The Support You Need While Breastfeeding

How To Get The Support You Need While Breastfeeding

After teaching a postnatal class two weeks ago, a few of the mothers and I began talking about breastfeeding, and the support one may need during that period. One mother, Dina, who was bottle feeding, shared her story about why she was no longer breastfeeding.

“About half my friends did not breastfeed so when I had problem after problem, even though I really wanted to breastfeed, I thought it was pretty average to stop breastfeeding. My mom, mother-in-law and sister-in-law didn’t breastfeed, so I just didn’t have much support on the home front. They didn’t understand why I was “putting myself through this,” she explained. Now that I’m out in the mommy world, I see that most people do breastfeed. I really feel that if I had known that, and if I had known that what I was going through was completely normal, and similar to what everyone else is going through, I would have been more inspired to continue to push myself through the rough part.

Also, the problems that we encountered were firstly due to a severe lack of help from the nurses at Lenox Hill Hospital to get me started on the right foot, so I came home from the hospital already with sores on my nipples. Sloan would only latch if she was hungry but not starving. If she was starving, it was really hard to get her to latch. She was extremely gassy, so I had to cut out a lot of food from my diet. Then she developed acid reflux and an allergy to milk and soy and I had to cut them both from my diet. I was trying to pump and hardly anything was coming out, so I felt that my supply was low. In retrospect, I don’t think it was, since Sloan was gaining weight.

And on a personal level, it was just hard for me to feel like I didn’t have any break. It was constant, every 1-2 hours and it would take her at least 45 minutes to eat, so I felt like it was just unending. Of course, I’ve now learned that the babies get more efficient and it takes them less time to eat as they get older. My mom said that if I didn’t bottle-feed, she’d never sleep through the night, but of course I know tons of breastfed babies who sleep through the night and did sleep through the night earlier than Sloan did.”

Stories like Dina’s are not uncommon. One of my close friends, Valerie, also experienced difficulties breastfeeding. Her daughter, Mia, had a hard time latching on. Valerie was pretty discouraged by this turn of events, but luckily was able to find a supportive network that encouraged her to continue pumping in order to exclusively feed Mia breast milk. For 12 months, Valerie and her breast pump were intimate friends. Recently, Valerie shared that had she not had the support and common bond with another mother going through the exact same experience at the same time, she does not know if she would have been able to sustain such a challenging pumping and feeding regimen.

Common Problems That May Arise:

It may be reassuring to realize that many mothers experience a slew of common problems when first initiating breastfeeding. Many of these issues are solvable once addressed with the proper guidance. Here are just a few difficulties you may encounter.

  • The mother many not feel enough support from family, friends or hospital. When researching doctors and hospitals, look for a “Baby-Friendly” hospital status
  • Sore nipples
  • Cracked nipples
  • Inverted nipples
  • Low milk supply
  • Going back to work and managing pumping
  • Breast problems and pain including thrush and mastitis
  • Challenge with baby latching
  • Fussy feeder
  • Colicky baby

From just listening to the breastfeeding stories of these two amazing mothers, Dina and Valerie, I learned how important it is to seek out help, should trouble arise. Recognizing that the problems you may have are normal can be comforting and encouraging. Additionally, please know that if you are having problems breastfeeding, it is in no way a reflection on you as a mother, you have not failed your child in any way. There are several venues to find support for breastfeeding mothers that can help should you encounter breastfeeding obstacles.

Where to Find Support

Interesting Statistics and Data about Breastfeeding Practice in the US

How many infants born in the United States are breastfed? The CDC National Immunization Survey is a nationally representative sample of the U.S. population, among infants born in 2006:

  • 73.9% were ever breastfed
  • 43.4% were still breastfeeding at 6 months of age
  • 22.7% were breastfeeding at 1 year of age
  • 33.1% were exclusively breastfed through 3 months of age
  • 13.6% were exclusively breastfed through 6 months of age

How long should a mother breastfeed?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire. The World Health Organization recommends continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.

Whereas 59 percent of women initiated breastfeeding in 1984, roughly three-quarters of women now start breastfeeding, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Immunization Survey.

Despite recent progress, gaps still persist between current breastfeeding practices and national breast-feeding objectives. Rates of exclusive and sustained breastfeeding remain low. Less than one-third of infants are exclusively breastfeeding at 3 months of age, and almost 80 percent of infants in the United States stop breastfeeding before the recommended minimum of one year. Furthermore, unacceptable racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in breastfeeding persist. Compared with white children, breastfeeding rates are about 50 percent lower among black children at birth, 6 months of age, and 12 months of age, regardless of the family’s income or education status. Compared with middle- and upper-income families, children in low-income families are less likely to be breastfed.

Debra Flashenberg is the founder and Director of the Prenatal Yoga Center. She is a certified labor support doula, Lamaze Childbirth Educator, and certified prenatal yoga instructor. She is continuously in awe of the beauty and brilliance of birth and is the proud mother of her son, Shay and daughter, Sage. Visit prenatalyogacenter.com for more info!



Your Guide To Breastfeeding In Public

Your Guide To Breastfeeding In Public

I clearly remember my first outing with Shay when I knew I would end up feeding him out of the house. As a new mother, I was a bit nervous since I had a whole “breastfeeding station” set up at home. This included a supportive pillow, water bottle, stool for my feet, right to expose myself if need be, and my Nook. Once out of the house, I felt unprepared and overwhelmed at how we would manage without my props. Luckily, with the help and support of my husband, all went well and this became the first of many “public” breastfeeding experiences.

Soon enough, breastfeeding out of the house didn’t require as much work or planning. I also stopped throwing a blanket over my shoulder in an attempt to cover the baby and breast. My main reason for this being that I liked looking at him while he nursed. I also felt like he was getting lost in the material and I couldn’t see what was going on. I tried the kind that covers the baby, but leaves an opening at the top to see the child and that wasn’t right either. I felt it was drawing even more attention to myself and again, I felt a little lost in the excess material. I opted for clothing that gave easy and discreet access to my breast. Since I was no longer fidgeting with covers and didn’t have my reading material along with me, I started noticing the people around me. Some people that saw me seemed interested, while others noticed and then suddenly turned their gaze away. Some looked shocked and a few looked disgusted.

Breastfeeding in public stirs up a lot of feelings and opinions for people. Some people, like the “bottle fed generation of the 60’s,” see breastfeeding as a private matter that should be saved for home or a private, discreet setting. Considering a newborn feeds about every two hours, poor mom would never leave home! Another reason some are opposed is because of the sexual implication of a bare breast. I believe there is more alluring breast exposure in beach-wear or scanty clothing then there is in breastfeeding. With the exception of the baby expectantly popping off, the baby’s head covers most of the breast.

Mothers are getting mixed messages. The America Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and continue to nurse for a full year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 75 percent of mothers start breastfeeding immediately after birth, but less than 15 percent of those moms are breastfeeding exclusively six months later. I believe this dramatic drop could be the lack of support to continue breastfeeding. For those that are continuing to 6 months or beyond, they make breastfeeding a life style choice. They are likely not tethered to their couch, so they must learn to breastfeed on the go.

“Nurse-ins” have become a popular protesting strategy among some “lactivists” to help normalize breastfeeding and to amplify breastfeeding mothers right to feed her baby where ever she likes, and they also heighten the public’s awareness of the health benefits of breastfeeding.

To help support nursing mothers, breastfeeding laws have been passed to protect the right of public nursing. Currently, 45 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location, those excluded from the list are Idaho, West Virginia, Michigan, Virginia, and South Dakota.

I don’t pay too much attention to tabloids or the activities of celebrities, but I am grateful that so many have chosen to breastfeed their children in public. Since we are culture that treats celebrities like royalty, this can help reduce the stigma of breastfeeding in public for the rest of us. This list includes: Beyonce, Gwen Stefani, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Miranda Kerr, Selma Hayek, and Selma Blair.

Tips for breastfeeding in public:

Wear your baby! Certain carries allow you to easily nurse your child with little fuss to get baby to breast.

Find easy access clothing. My personal favorites have been Glamourmom tank tops and the Boob shirts. Both of these have made it easy to nurse with little exposure.

Have a distraction for baby. A lot of babies have a “roaming arm” while breastfeeding. This active arm may be pushing your shirt up to your collarbone or pulling the other side of your shirt down. You may find it helpful to hold your baby’s hand or wear a necklace that the baby can reach for instead of your clothing.

Listen to your baby’s hunger cues. An overly hungry, crying baby can be a lot harder to pacify and will draw attention to you. Try to avoid getting to that point if possible.

Be mindful of where you position yourself in the room or surroundings. I have found this helpful not just to avoid being the center of attention, but to also limit distractions for Shay. I try to find a quiet, uncrowded space if possible. If the room is bustling, I head for the corner.

Feel confident that you are doing the right the thing for you and your baby! If anyone comments to you or gives you dirty looks, know that you have the right to feed your baby where ever you see fit.

Once you have the hang of breastfeeding in public, it will become second nature to you. Happy breastfeeding!

Debra Flashenberg is the founder and Director of the Prenatal Yoga Center. She is a certified labor support doula, Lamaze Childbirth Educator, and certified prenatal yoga instructor. She is continuously in awe of the beauty and brilliance of birth and is the proud mother of her son, Shay and daughter, Sage. Visit prenatalyogacenter.com for more info!


How To Get Proper Nutrition While Breastfeeding

How To Get Proper Nutrition While Breastfeeding

I found that a great deal of attention and information was given to me while pregnant about receiving proper nutrition. However, upon entering the postpartum phase, all I heard was “make sure you get enough water to compensate for the fluids lost while breastfeeding.” But besides the reminder to hydrate well, very little was discussed about what other nutrients were needed for supporting my milk producing body.

Since I was exclusively breastfeeding, I did experience the “breastfeeding weight loss” and noticed a drop in dress size pretty quickly. I also noticed that between breastfeeding and getting my little one down for a nap or even out the door for a walk, I had little time left to focus on my own food intake. I was joking with friends that the reason new moms lose weight is because we don’t have time (or a free hand) to feed ourselves! But laughing aside, I did start to notice that I was neglecting my own diet. I was grabbing whatever was in the fridge, specifically those things that could be eaten with one hand. I even started substituting Larabars for meals every now and then.

My diet started to concern me. Was I getting the right nutrition to support myself and my breastmilk?

I knew that breastfeeding mothers need on average 300-500 extra calories a day. The La Leche League cautions new mothers to approach this increased caloric intake with healthy dietary guidelines in mind. For example, the extra calories should from nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, veggies, complex carbs and protein, not empty calories from sugary treats. As for protein, the basic rule is to eat 1 gram of protein each day for every lb you weigh.

Wow, that is a lot of protein per day! Knowing I do not get over 100 grams of protein a day, I was getting concerned that the quantity and quality of my milk was going to suffer. Thankfully, some research findings eased some of my concerns. In recent years, research has confirmed that even if some nutrients are missing in a woman’s daily diet, she will still produce milk that will help her child grow. There is very little difference in the milk of healthy mothers and mothers who are severely malnourished. For example, if a mother’s diet is lacking in calories, her body makes up the deficit, drawing on the reserves laid down during pregnancy or before. Unless there is a physical reason for low milk production, a woman who breastfeeds on cue will be able to produce enough milk for her baby, regardless of what she eats. Basically, the malnourished mother’s body will still produce good milk, but at the cost to the mother, whose nutritional needs will go unmet.

Even though research suggests that I don’t have to worry about the quantity of my milk supply, it is still important to replenish the nutrients lost while breastfeeding. For those who like to follow guidelines to help establish a healthy diet, the US Department of Agriculture released a suggested food pyramid for breastfeeding mothers. My Pyramid Plan for Moms maps out a clear selection of healthy foods that support breastfeeding mothers. You can even get a plan designed just for you and your lifestyle. Go to mypyramid.gov/mypyramidmoms. The suggestion My Pyramid Plan offers seem quite reasonable to follow. For example, they focus on 5 different food groups; fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meats and beans and dairy with realistic intake from each group, like 2 cups of fruit a day or 3 cups of veggies. To get an idea of what that would look like in a daily diet, one medium grapefruit equals 1 cup or one large sweet potato equals 1 cup.

From the food pyramid, you will notice two things. One: There is not a category for nutritional supplements. Assuming you are getting all your nutrition from food, you may not need additional vitamins. (Although many women do continue to take their prenatal vitamins postpartum.) Lana Levy, founder of Just For Today Nutrition states: “Dietary supplements can improve milk quality and quantity in women that are malnourished; however, a balanced diet without excessive supplementation is the best way to ensure good milk. Vitamins that are taken in excess are excreted in the urine anyway, so don’t waste your money!”

The second observation is, 1/5 of the pyramid is taken up by animal protein, and for those that are vegan, 2/5 of the pyramid would be excluded. Nutritionists urge vegetarian and vegan mothers to make sure they are getting enough b12, calcium and zinc which are generally found in dairy products, meat, fish and eggs. To get adequate b12, try fortified soy milk and fortified yeast or b12 supplement. Calcium is abundant in dark leafy greens, almonds, calcium-enriched tofu, and blackstrap molasses. Zinc can be found in spinach, pumpkin seeds, yeast, wheat germ, peanuts, beans, and bran cereals.

I hope this has clarified supportive nutritional needs for those that choose to breastfeed. As for my own time management/eating schedule, I try to have a bowl of almonds handy, along with yogurt packs and instant steel cut oatmeal to hold me over until my son is calmly playing or napping. Then, I can have a proper meal. I figure, as long as I am making healthy choices in my “quick bites” my body and my baby will be just fine.

Debra Flashenberg is the founder and Director of the Prenatal Yoga Center. She is a certified labor support doula, Lamaze Childbirth Educator, and certified prenatal yoga instructor. She is continuously in awe of the beauty and brilliance of birth and is the proud mother of her son, Shay and daughter, Sage. Visit prenatalyogacenter.com for more info!

Breastfeeding 101

Breastfeeding 101

August is National Breastfeeding Month–and what better way to celebrate than by catching up with one of the best experts in the breastfeeding field about benefits, myths, and key info to know?

Gina Cicatelli Ciagne is a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC), Lansinoh’s Vice President of Integrated Marketing and Clinical Communications, and a mother of two breastfed children. She’s also a nationally recognized expert on breastfeeding, and has been an active advocate for breastfeeding and women’s health for more than a decade. As a Certified Lactation Counselor and La Leche League International-trained breastfeeding peer counselor, she has worked with and provided advice and support to thousands of breastfeeding mothers around the world. She is the mother of two breastfed children. Read on for her expert insight into some common breastfeeding questions!

What are the biggest benefits to breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding is more than a lifestyle choice — it is the ideal way to nurture and nourish your baby and has many benefits for you that last beyond the period of nursing. The first few weeks can be challenging, and sometimes new mothers give up before they, and their babies, can experience the benefits. Knowing the breastfeeding benefits can keep you motivated and increase your chances of success.

Breastmilk is more easily digested and provides the essential nutrients, vitamins, proteins, fats and antibodies, in just the right proportions that the baby needs to develop physically and neurologically; breastmilk will also change its composition to meet your baby’s needs as they get older or if your baby is sick; and breastmilk is made of live cells and is easily absorbed by your baby.

Additionally, breastfeeding decreases a mother’s risk of developing breast cancer. In addition, studies show that breastfeeding may decrease ovarian cancer and uterine cancer in women who breastfeed; breastfeeding mothers may have a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes (researchers say breastfeeding may change a mother’s metabolism in ways that make the possible connection plausible); studies show that breastfeeding mothers show less postpartum depression than formula-feeding mothers because breastfeeding triggers and releases oxytocin (also called the “love hormone”) and prolactin that can help you relax and feel less stressed; and as a nursing mother, you will burn extra calories, making it easier to lose the pounds put on during pregnancy. Breastfeeding will help you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight faster.

What are some myths about breastfeeding that women should know are not true?

There are many myths associated with breastfeeding.  One of these is that breastfeeding causes breasts to sag or lose their shape.  As a matter of fact, according to research, it is the stretching of the ligaments caused by weight gain during pregnancy that can cause breasts to sag (also called Ptosis).

Another common myth is that breast size determines how much milk a mom will make and this is untrue. The size of her breasts does not impact her internal breastmilk storage capacity. So, a small-breasted woman can produce as much milk as her baby needs as can a larger breasted woman.

A third common myth is that feedings should be timed and baby’s breastfeeding sessions should be scheduled. These are untrue! It is important, for establishing and maintaining a good milk supply as well as nourishing your baby, that is fed “on demand” meaning baby is put to the breast when exhibiting hunger cues (smacking lips, sucking on fingers and hands, rooting) and allowed to feed as long as they wish without taking them off after a certain time period. Let baby nurse on one breast until they stop or unlatch themselves. They may take occasional pauses during a feed but that does not mean they are done. If they pause, see if they re-latch themselves or you can relatch baby if he is still hungry.  Then offer the other breast but know it is okay for them to only feed on one breast at a session. This ensures that baby drains as much milk as possible because then the body refills the milk that has been removed (keeping up your supply based on baby’s needs!). Some babies are quick at nursing and others take longer. Also, don’t be strict about time in between feeds. Some go for an hour in between and others build up to feeding every three hours. Babies do tend to start to lengthen time between feedings as they get older but it is important for your comfort and for baby’s optimal growth and development to not be a strict scheduler, especially in the early days. Timing feedings and sticking to a strict schedule can affect baby’s weight gain, can cause engorgement, and can lead to low milk supply (if milk is not removed, your body will start to make less).

What are some reasons that you hear from women as to why they aren’t comfortable breastfeeding in public?

We have all seen media stories of moms who have been publicly shamed or ridiculed for breastfeeding their baby in public and that has made some worried about feeding their babies in public. Moms also worry that they will be seen as an exhibitionist if someone happens to see their breast if their baby unlatches while nursing in public.While breasts are designed for breastfeeding, not everyone understands that and forget that this is about nourishing a baby.

What are strategies that you’d recommend to help breastfeeding mothers feel more confident breastfeeding in public?

It is important to remember that breastfeeding is so beneficial for you and baby’s health and that there are laws that protect her right to breastfeed. Many moms take along a nursing shawl or cover up but many also find that baby has other plans and doesn’t like to be covered! That eye contact is so important during feedings too so many moms don’t want to cover up or feel ashamed for caring for their babies. Moms should feel comfortable wherever they nurse and remember that their focus should be on their baby and not these naysayers. There are also many establishments who will be accommodating and provide a private space for mom to nurse if she feels more comfortable nursing away from others.

Are there specific products you recommend to make breastfeeding easier (in public and private)?

Breastfeeding can come with some challenges but there are solutions. Since leaking is a common issue for many moms, having nursing pads with them so they can capture leaks if they let-down can also be reassuring. Having ultra-pure HPA Lanolin cream or Soothies Gel Pads can also be helpful particularly in the early days when moms are experiencing soreness. Therapearl Breast Therapy Packs are unique in that they provide hot or cold relief for engorgement, swelling, and plugged ducts, and can also aid in a faster let-down and more milk released when warmed and wrapped around a breast pump flange. For pumping moms, a high quality breast pump is important so they can keep up their milk supply and also have milk to leave behind for their babies when they will be apart. There are manual pumps for occasional use as well as double pumps available on the market. It is important to know that there are closed system pumps and open system pumps. Closed system pumps, like the Lansinoh SmartPump, ensure that no milk backs up into the tubing or the motor which can prevent mold and bacteria growth. The SmartPump is the first technologically advanced with Bluetooth connectivity double electric breast pump and connects to the Lansinoh Baby App so it records time and date and time spent pumping and has many sections moms can use to capture developmental and growth milestones.  Moms can track and record information to share with their healthcare providers such as breastfeeding sessions, diaper changes and also access resources and articles on breastfeeding and pumping. Having safe breastmilk storage bags is key for moms who are pumping and storing their milk. Being able to pump directly in the bags is helpful for moms who don’t want to transfer the milk from a bottle to a bag before stashing it away. Choosing bags that are BPA and BPS- free and that have extra security measures like double zipper lock closures are also great to use.

What advice would you give to moms who are having a hard time getting their baby to breastfeed in a consistent way (or having trouble with latching, milk supply, and beyond)?

It is important to get help or assistance if a mom is encountering issues with breastfeeding such as worries about latching on or if they are worried about their supply. A small issue can turn into a big issue if not addressed and so many early challenges with breastfeeding can be remedied with some assistance. There are professionals whose purpose is to help breastfeeding moms and babies and it is important to know there is no need to suffer in silence! Reading ahead of time to know what to expect can be hugely helpful as well as going to credible sources for assistance with positioning, latching on and how to establish and maintain a good milk supply.

What should women know about the new CDC regulations for keeping pumps clean?

Pumping can be a cumbersome task for many moms but they do it because they will be apart from baby during feeding times and they need to maintain their milk supply and be able to leave expressed breastmilk for their baby’s caregiver to give in their absence. It is important to familiarize yourself with the new CDC guidelines on how to effectively clean your breast pump parts regularly to ensure that it is kept clean and sanitary so your expressed breastmilk is kept safe. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions for your pump on how to sanitize and clean the breast pump before using for the first time and after each use.  It is also important to know that there are closed system breast pumps which prevent milk from getting sucked up into tubing and into the pump’s motor which are different than open system pumps which cannot prevent this type of milk back up. The backup is not only inconvenient but it can be a safety hazard as mold and bacteria can grow in a warm, moist environment like pump tubing and in small areas that cannot be cleaned or sanitized.

Gina Cicatelli Ciagne is a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC), Lansinoh’s Vice President of Integrated Marketing and Clinical Communications, and a Media Spokesperson. She is a nationally recognized expert on breastfeeding, and has been an active advocate for breastfeeding and women’s health for more than a decade. As a Certified Lactation Counselor and La Leche League International-trained breastfeeding peer counselor, she has worked with and provided advice and support to thousands of breastfeeding mothers around the world. She is the mother of two breastfed children.


Traveling & Breastfeeding? Here’s How!

Traveling & Breastfeeding? Here’s How!

Peggy Economou and her daughter

After graduating with an economics degree from Colgate University, I moved back to my hometown NYC and started my career in investment banking. Although I had a great career and loved my colleagues, I wasn’t feeling fulfilled professionally and creatively so after eight years I quit and traveled the world for a year. During my travels I met my husband who is from Siena, Italy, which is where we live now with our 2.5-year-old daughter, Dafne, who was the inspiration behind Teat&Cosset.

My experience breastfeeding her and the challenges I faced with clothing during this period is what sparked the idea. Breastfeeding was hard enough in the beginning and I felt that clothing was an unnecessary obstacle. She was born in December 2014 and it was difficult finding winter tops that would keep me warm and that I could comfortably breastfeed in, either at home or out. Besides not always being functional or good quality, every top I found had that same stretchy wrap look with minuscule slit openings that I barely used. I refused to spend any more money on something that I was going to get rid of after I finished breastfeeding. I also wanted to feel like myself again and the way I dressed was a big part of that. I definitely did not feel good wearing the nursing tops I had found so I went to a local seamstress with a few designs in mind, that were both stylish and functional. These first designs went on to become pieces in our collection at Teat&Cosset.

Wearing beautiful and functional clothes positively changed how I felt about my experience nursing and removed an unnecessary obstacle to breastfeeding. Designing beautiful clothing to help women reach their breastfeeding milestone is something I can say I am truly passionate about.

With that said, here are a few tips for traveling moms on the go!

1) Where to pump: If there isn’t a pumping or mothers space at the airport (some airports have Mamava pods which are wonderful and private) then I would find an isolated corner while you’re waiting for your flight or when you land. You can also check out websites such as Moms Pump Here or Pumpspotting (app) to find pumping friendly spaces.  If you have to pump on the plane just do it in your seat and bring a poncho to cover up and remember, most people will not notice or care!

2) Cooler choice: the number of days you’re away depends on what size cooler to bring. For one night away I suggest a small insulated lunch box cooler. For a three-day trip you can use a six-pack cooler and for longer trips as 12-can cooler. There are also many specifically designed breast milk coolers you can find on Amazon if you don’t want to use a regular cooler.

3) Breastmilk transport: For US travel the TSA allows you to carry on as much milk as you want. For international travel you may want to check the airport before traveling to make sure if you can carry it on.  It is a good idea to freeze your milk for longer trips and the TSA does not have to inspect frozen milk so you can save time at the airport too. You can always ask the hotel staff to do this for you if you don’t have access to a freezer and make sure your ice-packs are frozen too.

4) What to pack: a permanent marker to label breast milk bags, ice-packs, a shawl or poncho – the Olimpia poncho is a favorite – to cover up on the plane, a pumping bra, breast pump, spare parts, breast milk storage bags, cleaning soap, a few spare bottles, a spare hand pump (if you can’t use the electric pump during taxi or take off), a cooler and lots of photos of your baby to help with letdown

5) Plan each day: Look at your schedule and decide in advance the times you are going to pump and make sure to schedule it in. Also think about where you will be at those times and where you will be able to pump. Give yourself some leeway around these times though because you never know what may come up.

Peggy Economou is the founder of Teat&Cosset. For more on Teat&Cosset, visit: teatandcosset.com and follow along on Instagram at @TeatandCosset!