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Natural

Wednesday by Leah: Delayed Cord Clamping

It’s standard practice at most hospitals to clamp and cut the umbilical cord very soon after the baby is born. This practice was likely started because you can’t move the baby very far from the mother when the cord is still attached – especially if the placenta has not yet been delivered, which can take up to 30ish minutes after the baby comes out. So no putting the baby under the warmer, cleaning the baby off, weighing/swaddling/etc. We elected to delay cord clamping and cutting. Instead, we waited for the cord to finish transferring blood from the placenta to BabyRoX.

What happens when the cord is cut within 30 seconds of birth? The iron-rich blood in the placenta, which takes a few minutes to transfer to the baby, now has no way of getting to where it is needed. Delaying cord clamping increases the baby’s blood volume by up to one-third (1/3), which helps prevent anemia. Higher iron stores have been found even 3 months after birth in infants whose cord clamping was delayed.

Routine hospital practices are slow to change, but it IS starting to happen as evidence of the benefits of delayed cord clamping mounts.Says one OB/GYN: If the burden of proof is on us to prove that immediate clamping is good, that burden is clearly not met.  And furthermore, there is strong evidence that delaying clamping as little as 30 seconds has measurable benefits for the infant, especially in premature babies and babies born to iron deficient mothers.”

Also, here’s a great video that shows why delayed cord clamping is helpful:

Obviously, each parent must make decisions based on what they feel is best/healthiest for their child. Will a child be seriously harmed by immediate cord clamping? Most likely the answer is no. But why routinely do something that denies a child certain health benefits from the get-go? Furthermore, unless you actively research birth, routine practice, and BEST practice, you wouldn’t even know to ASK for delayed cord clamping at the birth of your child.

What special requests did you/will you make for the birth of your child? What surprised you about your prenatal, labor, and delivery experience?

 

Wednesday by Leah: Tricia Talks Pumping

I am excited to introduce Tricia, who has written a very thoughtful and helpful guestpost for y’all today about pumping milk for her sweet son, Evan, while she’s working full-time. I know there are some mamas-to-be out there who will find this extra helpful! And we do aim to please, over here at LeahAndMark.com. After all, we are full-service photographers. Need a bouquet? Bam! I’ve got it arranged and wrapped for you! Need info on breastfeeding? Bam! Here ya go.  Ok, I digress… 

Tricia is awesome. I met her waaaay back in 2003 on my Tibetan Studies program. (Remember Katie? And her farm wedding in NC? Same program!) Tricia and I were roomies for a month in Nepal during the final stretch of that adventure. And now we’re both moms to awesome lil guys, figuring out the whole parenting thing on opposite sides of the country. So…without further ado… take it away, Tricia!

Thank you Leah for having me as a guest blogger, I am honored.  My name is Tricia and I am the mother of a 7-month old baby, Evan.  When my husband, Alex, and I decided to have a baby and he would stay home, we joked that the only thing he couldn’t provide was milk…so I had to get a good pump.  There were no ifs ands or buts about it.  Continuing to breastfeed and work is difficult, if not impossible, for most.  One of the first questions Alex gets when he tells people he is a stay at home dad and Evan is still breastfeeding…is “how is the pumping going?”

I read the books and talked to La Leche League, but you never know how it is going to work, I mean really work, until you start doing it.   So far I have pumped about 300 times.  It gets old and there are times I don’t want to strap on the pump, but I do it. Plus, we worked so hard to get breastfeeding established after the C-section and Evan being in NICU for two days…I don’t want to lose it.  I learned a lot of things the hard way, so I am here to share some experiences.

My Pumping Story

I have been working 8 to 9 hour days, five days a week since Evan was 11 weeks old.  My schedule is flexible, but I generally work in an office from 8 to 5.  Most of my work occurs at a desk, but I do go in the field about once every two weeks.  Luckily I have an office with a door I can lock.  I just put on a “Do not disturb” sign and get to pumping.  I didn’t even think of telling my boss that I would be unavailable, locked down in my office for 1.5 hours a day, I just assumed they knew it would happen.  I guess they did, because no one bothers me.

I have found that pumping three times a day works for my body.  I continue pumping until nothing more comes out, with each session lasting 20 to 45 minutes.  I go through two letdowns and try to get 5 to 8 ounces out of each session, but sometimes I only get 4. I average 15 to 18 oz in a 9-hour period.  Everybody is different, Leah told me she gets 4 oz in 5 minutes (I am jealous) [Disclaimer: I have super-forceful letdown, which can be nice, but not when I’m practically waterboarding my son! Great for pumping, not so great for nursing. But yes, everyone is different].  On an average day I pump within an hour of getting to work, around noon, and again an hour before I leave (every 3 to 4 hours).  It typically takes me 3 minutes to put on the pump and 3 minutes to take it off and rinse the equipment.  When I am in the field, there is usually a commute, so I pump on the way there, at lunch and the way home (yes, while driving).  The remainder of the pumping time I am able to continue working, which is great because otherwise my work day would turn into a 10+ hour day and I would never see my child (kind of defeats the purpose of this whole venture).  I have a fridge in my office which I store everything in.  In the beginning I was only pumping twice a day, but Evan appeared to need more milk during the day so I added one more session to my routine.  In addition to pumping, I feed Evan twice in the morning, twice in the evening, and typically once in the middle of the night.

A few things to think about.

  1. We started Evan on one bottle a week when he was 5 weeks old.  This worked for Evan to get used to a bottle, Alex to gain confidence in feeding him, and I got to pump and create a backstock of frozen milk (2 bottles worth comes out of me and only 1 bottle goes in the baby).
  2. Create a backstock before you go back to work. It helps for growth spurts and long work hours.  We had about 100 ozs before I went back to work.  I pumped in the morning or in the evening after Evan went to bed.  A friend of mine started pumping before each time she fed her baby, so her body generated enough milk to feed and pump.  Now that we have worked our way through the frozen milk supply I bring the pump home on the weekend to supplement the backstock.
  3. The books say fresh milk lasts 5 days, but it depends on you. Evan doesn’t seem to like my 4 day old milk and a friend’s baby won’t take milk that is more than 24 hours old or frozen milk.  It is probably best to test this before building a big backstock.
  4. In the beginning, I had one of Evan’s worn shirts to smell to get my body in the mood.  Now my boobs are trained when the cold (they are stored in the fridge) flanges go on, I let down quickly.  Sometimes the second let down doesn’t come as easy, so I look at pictures or videos of Evan.  I also massage and squeeze the sides of the breast (C-clamp) to get extra milk.  I have been meaning to get a video of him crying, but haven’t gotten there yet.
  5. I set an alarm on my outlook calendar to remind me.  My calendar is shared with everyone else in the company, so I put the appointments on private.  Either way my status comes up as busy.  Most people have figured out by now that if they call or message me, I will answer (I turn off the pump because you can hear it).
  6. Get the double pump and bra that holds the pump on your boobs. It makes it so you can do something else while you are pumping.
  7. I pump directly into bottles and then Alex uses them the next day. We have nine bottles (four with me, four with Evan and then an extra).
  8. Have a rag to blot your breasts when you take the flanges off.  There is nothing like milk stains on your work pants.
  9. We got a used Medela Instyle from my sister-in-law.  By about the 200th pump, the pump was getting weak.  I got a new plug and it started working great again.
  10. If you use glass bottles, the yellow tops that come with the Medela plastic bottles leak. We use the tops that are the nipple holders and then a little circle that goes in the middle. They come with the bottles and work well.
  11. Get backup supplies for the breakable items.  The yellow piece and little white plastic flange on the Medela pumps break. One broke on a day I had to go out of town for a meeting, and I had to pump one boob at a time.  I have only had my boobs leak once and this was it because I didn’t have time to drain them all the way.
  12. No matter where you are, have something to do while you are pumping. I get bored if I don’t and then I don’t pump as long as I should.
  13. I have pumped in the car and in the bathroom stall and while I was driving (I set up beforehand). My pump comes with a battery powered adapter. The batteries last for about 10 to 15 pumps before they get too slow and inefficient.
  14. You don’t need to wash the pump equipment every time you use it if you have a way to keep them cold. I have tupperware I put them in to store in the fridge in my office. I just rinse them with water after each pump session and then wash them with soap at the end of the day.
  15. We bought a cheap fridge and it makes this horrible high pitch whine when it is on.  If I were to do it again, I would have spent more.
  16. Every once in a while I get a clogged duct and the pump just won’t break it which causes poor pump production of milk.  When this happens Alex brings Evan in to ease the boob’s woes.
  17. I have noticed my milk supply is directly related to how much water I drink.  I typically chug a 12 oz glass of water after each pump and then drink at least one glass in between sessions.  I also drink a few mugs of the “Mothers Milk” tea per day.
  18. The key to keeping up your supply is actually doing the pumping.  In the beginning, Evan spent a lot of time on the boob when I was home.   For a while I wanted him to keep waking up in the middle of the night to give the boobs some action.  Now I seem to pump more during the week than he eats on the weekend.
  19. A friend also swears by chia seed to increase milk supply.  I haven’t tried it but she also had a 300 oz backstock when she went back to work, so maybe she is onto something.

 I hope my experiences help.  The hardest part about continuing to breastfeed and going back to work is keeping up the milk supply.  Liquids and consistency helps a lot…and it never hurts to try chia seed. 

Food Photography with the Intern Army

Atlanta Commercial Food | Product Photography | LeahAndMark.com

– Posted by Mark

Last Monday the Intern Army and I photographed some food in the studio.

Now you’ve probably noticed – we don’t photograph products or food around here that often – so it’s definitely not one of our ‘specialties’. However – this has been a very interesting and educational process – and I’m not even talking about the taking pictures part. That’s actually the easy stuff. The interesting part has been everything we’ve done to really understand what the client wanted as far as the content of the photos, but more importantly, the overall look, feel, and impression left by the photos – along with how to achieve those impressions that we wanted the viewer to have after seeing each photo.

For example – one of the 20 products we shot is a line of different granola. Instead of just showing good, clear, glossy photos of the granola – you want to show people how they might actually EAT the granola. How it might be used and consumed – instead of just taking beautiful photos of a product, you’re taking beautiful photos of the product in a way that’s familiar to the end user. While at the same time, in line with the style of the brand in its current state, or even helping to redefine the brand in a new way. So different from say, being an arrogant wedding photographer/artist that shoots with THEIR VISION and ONLY their vision – you need to really understand and deliver what your client wants and balance that with whatever artistic ego you feel like holding on to.

Atlanta Commercial Food | Product Photography | LeahAndMark.com

And there were a lot of different individual pieces and products – so I brought in the Intern Army and we set up three stations in our Studio.

1. Packaging
2. Raw Ingredients
3. Styled (even though they were all technically ‘styled’)

Oh – and this time I was smart enough to hire our Stylist, LoriGami to work on the shoot with us. While my ego might argue that taking/making these photos is hard work – the truth is that the real reason these photos are successful is because Lori did a great job making everything look amazing. When we needed different options, different setups, or new ideas – Lori handled everything. Props, setups, food wrangling, and more.

All we did as photographers was manage the light, and take the photos. Well – of course light is kind of a big deal – especially if you’ve ever tried taking product photos without proper lighting.

See? – we were like a product-photo-factory that day and we definitely knocked out an amazing number of shots in those 7 hours.

And yes – by the end, we had probably eaten more granola that day than we have all year.

Atlanta Commercial Food | Product Photography | LeahAndMark.com

Atlanta Commercial Food | Product Photography | LeahAndMark.com

Atlanta Commercial Food | Product Photography | LeahAndMark.com

Atlanta Commercial Food | Product Photography | LeahAndMark.com

Atlanta Commercial Food | Product Photography | LeahAndMark.com

Atlanta Commercial Food | Product Photography | LeahAndMark.com

 

Placenta Encapsulation

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

– Text by Leah – Photos by Mark

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta PhotographersSo I decided to encapsulate my placenta. Or, rather, I decided to hire someone to come over to my house and encapsulate it for me (thanks, Melanie!). Honestly, if I think about it too much it still grosses me out. *But* I’m happy to report that the actual taking of the placenta pills is not as gross as I feared. So why exactly am I swallowing my placenta? There are a list of supposed benefits from consuming one’s placenta after birth – from helping reduce postpartum bleeding, to increasing milk supply and a host of other things. There aren’t any big studies to back up these claims, but there are tons of anecdotal accounts from other women, so I figured I’d give it a shot… at the very least, it wouldn’t hurt me. And it could possibly really help with my postpartum recovery. The main reason I wanted to take placenta pills was to help with the huge hormonal decrease that follows birth. Like I said, there aren’t many studies yet on placentophagy, but the few small studies available are promising and show benefits such as decrease in maternal fatigue and postpartum depression. The placenta is super rich in nutrients, and contains a stress-fighting chemical know as corticotropin-releasing hormone, or CRH:

During the last trimester of pregnancy, the placenta secretes a lot of CRH. The rise is so dramatic that CRH levels in the maternal bloodstream increase threefold. “We can only speculate,” says George Chrousos, the endocrinologist who led the NIH study, “but we think it helps women go through the stress of pregnancy, labor, and delivery.” But what happens after birth, when the placenta is gone? Chrousos and his colleagues monitored CRH levels in 17 women from the last trimester to a year after they gave birth. All the women had low levels of CRH – as low as seen in some forms of depression – in the six weeks following birth. The seven women with the lowest levels felt depressed. Chrousos suspects that CRH levels are temporarily low in new mothers because CRH from the placenta disrupts the feedback system that regulates normal production of the hormone. During pregnancy, when CRH levels are high in the bloodstream, the hypothalamus releases less CRH. After birth, however, when this supplementary source of CRH is gone, it takes a while for the hypothalamus to get the signal that it needs to start making more CRH.

The theory is that by ingesting the placenta after birth, it helps the mother get over the “hump” until her brain starts producing CRH again, thereby warding off the baby blues or post-partum depression. And that’s primarily why I’ve chosen to eat my placenta. (yuck, it still grosses me out to say that!).

I’m only 2 weeks and 6 days postpartum now, but I can tell you that my milk supply is off the charts. BabyRoX is getting plenty of it and gaining weight like it’s his job. There have been two days I didn’t take my pills in the morning like usual, and on those days I felt way more tired and emotionally raw – you know, the kind of crazy everything-is-gonna-make-me-cry feeling…and then I took the pills, and I felt substantially more energetic and emotionally stable. Was this due to the powers of the placenta? Maybe, maybe not. But even if it’s just a placebo effect, I’m all for it. I like feeling great and I’m glad I decided to encapsulate my placenta. And the little purple pills in my fridge aren’t that gross. I just try not to think about it too much. Mark, on the other hand, photographed the whole process… for your viewing pleasure, of course!

(It gets pretty graphic and bloody – which is why we pushed the photos further down than usual on the page.)

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

– Text by Mark

We hired Melanie Nasmyth to do the placenta encapsulation. You can email her at: melnasmyth@gmail.com if you’re interested in finding out more about her services – she’s also a DONA certified labor doula.

To ‘keep’ the placenta – we placed it in a ziplock bag and put it in the fridge right after the birth. Two days later we had Melanie come over to turn the placenta into pills.

Of course – the first step whenever you’re cooking human parts – is to prepare the meat.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

There’s an outer lining/sac that you have to remove.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Once the placenta was cleaned – Melanie put it in the steamer and then into a pot of water to cook the thing.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Oh yeah – if you put a lemon slice into the pot – it helps to keep it from really smelling bad as the placenta cooks.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

It cooks faster if you poke a few holes into the placenta meat.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Hey look. Cord.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

And then after 20 minutes or so – you have cooked placenta!

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Now you cut it up into slices.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Get your Food Dehydrator ready – because we’re making placenta jerky.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

… six hours later…. you take all of that placenta jerky and eat it.

No – just kidding don’t do that! You put it into a coffee grinder (one that you will NEVER USE AGAIN) – and grind that placenta meat into a fine powder.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

And then you grab your ‘pill-making’ set and get to work.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

And now you have 64 pills (or more).

It’s a relatively easy process once you know what you’re doing and once you have all of the tools/appliances you need. Melanie brought a lot of her own supplies with her – stuff like a disposable cutting board, the knives, the food dehydrator, the coffee grinder, etc… think of all of the ‘dishes’ that you end up using when you cook a meal – now think about how you might NOT want to use any of that stuff EVER AGAIN.

It was totally worth it for us to hire Melanie and have her do everything, with her own supplies. Now – if you’re a partner/spouse that thinks this might be a crazy/gross thing for your wife to do – the way I see it is – F*ck the weirdness of the whole thing. If it’s going to keep my wife from getting post-partum depression or just help her from feeling sad/not feeling well, then I’m all for it. Why wouldn’t I be for something like that?

And now – it’s time for a bath and then a nap.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Wednesday by Leah: Pregnancy Reading List

I am a total information junkie.  Plus I think it’s important to be informed about huge life-altering events and to know one’s options… and I think it’s equally important to limit my intake of negative, fear-based information and up my intake of positive, empowering information.  So here’s a list of the books I’ve read that I recommend for pregnant women and those who love them:

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth - if you only read one book about birth, pick this one. It’s a mixture of information about what happens during labor and how to have a good childbirth experience, coupled with positive birth stories and some info about the history of childbirth.

Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife - interesting autobiography of a California midwife with lots of awesome birth stories woven in!

Atlanta Family Portrait Photographer - LeahAndMark.com Wednesday by Leah

Diary of a Midwife - similar to Baby Catcher. This one is the autobiography of a Virginia-based midwife, also with lots of great birth stories.

YOU: Having a Baby - by the famous Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen.  Good basic info about pregnancy and birth, although a bit cheesy.  The doctors present balanced information and cover multiple sides of issues such as testing in pregnancy, vaccinations, etc. I liked how this book incorporated both the mainstream medical approach, the more natural approach, and listed the doctors’ own decisions which were somewhere in the middle.

The Birth Partner - Great book for all birth partners, but also a good read for the pregnant woman herself!  Goes through the stages of labor in-depth and the different paths that labor can take, as well as ways to cope with contractions, support the laboring woman, and questions to ask if labor takes an unexpected turn and you are faced with making some quick decisions.

Birth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta - also by Ina May Gaskin, this book is a comprehensive overview of the history of childbirth, how birth experiences impact women and their loved ones, ways the current health care system is failing women (and the available alternatives that women might not know about), and well thought-out suggestions for improving maternity care both in the U.S. and around the world. The book also has empowering birth stories that I like to re-read as my own labor approaches!

I’ve read a number of other books, too, but these are the top ones I’d recommend.  I’d love to hear your suggestions, too!