Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cloth Diaper Follow-Up

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It has been an exciting 4 months here in my cloth-diapering household! I'm proud to say that my son hasn't had a disposable diaper on his bum since he was about 2 weeks old! I've been meaning to come follow-up with how we're doing, what we like and don't like, and especially tell you how my DIY inserts have worked out.
My son has been oh so gracious as to let us experiment with his toosh. We haven't been too rough on him I don't think.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE a fluffy butt!!
I feel fantastic not tossing diapers in the trash can only to be sent to the curb to die (or live rather) in a landfill.
I don't have to run out to the store every or every other week to buy wipes and diapers because I ran out.
We have yet to have a oober poop blowout. I remember disposables with my daughter could barely handle a poop. These things can seriously handle a nightmare!

Here's my booger

Here's my booger and his fluff

Inserts & Diapers
Several months ago, back before my little dude came peeing in to the world, I posted about my DIY inserts Part I & Part II

Part I were the blend inserts with fleece and microfiber.

Part II were the microfiber.

My goal was to use the blend inserts for my gDiapers. Since this is a follow-up I'll be honest:
 They did not work for my son :( I'm not saying they didn't work. They definitely absorbed pee but it was very quickly evident that I had a heavy wetter. They actually did better, in my opinion, than the actual gDiaper brand inserts. Despite them not working in the gDiapers for us they eventually found a place as a doubler in overnight diapers. More on that later...

When my son came home from the hospital we began using the tiny gDiapers with disposable inserts. It was far easier than using the cloth. You're changing diapers every hour and unless you're just gung-ho you don't really want to wash inserts every other day. I didn't. It was much easier to wash the gDiaper covers in a regular baby laundry load. Plus the entire gDiaper set was a gift that included two packages of disposable inserts, why not?!
This is one of the only photos I have of him in a tiny gDiaper
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You can read more about gDiapers (including the tinies) at Joyful Abode. She helped convince me!

I LOVED the tinies. They were just so adorable, and although I was stuffing them with disposable inserts it felt great using the cloth. The set came with 12 which worked perfectly for the first 2 weeks. He came home weighing just a tad over 7lb and they fit him til he weighed approximately 9lb. At that point we were getting frequent leaks which meant it was time to move up.

Once he grew out of the tinies we put him in the smalls (we had 8 covers/liners and washed with regular laundry as needed). These were just a little bit too big in the legs at first with using the gCloth, which going back to the above, we learned did not absorb very well for him at all. I started stuffing them with the 5 layer charcoal bamboo inserts which were thick enough and absorbed enough to work beautifully! 
The charcoal bamboo are longer than the small gDiaper liner so you see a large bump on the front of his diaper due to folding it over. The inserts not only fit better that way but also provided more absorption where little boys need it most.

The smalls fit him until he was 6 or 7 weeks old. We began to get leaks again so it was time to go for the OS (one size) diapers. In order to get a good fit with the OS I was usually double stuffing with charcoal bamboo & my DIY inserts (blends & microfibers), ESPECIALLY at night. We no longer double stuff daytime diapers.

Just a quick note... in one of my original diaper posts I mentioned I ordered newborn Alva brand snap diapers. These were a no go for us. By the time they fit him in the leg area the leg gusset was too thin and any poop or pee would spill right out. They were an awkward fit for us. so I ended up selling them therefore decreasing my stash by 12 diapers :(

One of my early favorites
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Our changing area

The diaper pail is a basic trash can with a lid I bought from Walmart for I think $10-$15? I made a liner out of a shower curtain and sewed a little yellow fabric to it. It worked great for a few months but recently tore along one of my sewn seams. Not anything I recommend unless you just want to take a stab at it and need a cheap liner alternative to hold you over. I won't even make a tutorial for it. I currently use a massove Bububibi brand pail liner.

When possible I try to pre-stuff all the diapers to make it easier to grab and change. Sometimes it's not possible due to working full-time and everything else that's on my plate so we stuff as we go.

Our general rules of diaper stuffing:
Daytime diapers can be stuffed with the white cotton bamboo (a 5 layer insert; 2 layers of cotton and 3 layers of microfiber) but preferably CBI (charcoal bamboo) and night time diapers must be stuffed with CBI and either MF (microfiber) or a DIY blend. 

Cloth Wipes
I used to use disposable wipes in my bedroom for nighttime changes. Now that he sleeps through the night with the same diaper (not that he actually sttn... just keeps the same diaper on lol) I only use disposable wipes in the diaper bag. 


For regular household use wipes I went the free route and stripped several of my husband's old shirts he gained over the years from working at Blockbuster in a load of original Dawn dish soap. I then cut about 3 shirts in to 60 or so small wipes about 6x6-7x7inches. My wipe solution is water with California Baby brand wash mixed in, (about 1 tbsp in the size bottle you see) and a couple drops of Tea Tree essential oil. Give it a generous shake before spraying, apply it to your wipes and wipe away!

The most amazing aspect of the entire cloth diapering process is... my husband doesn't complain a bit about it! He was very concerned about my plans when I was pregnant but I believe he knows that I had made up my mind and gave in. Giving in turned to "if it saves us money, let's do it" and saving money turned in to his incredible flexibility with everything I do. He gives me feedback on what diapers work or don't work. He even occasionally helps me with laundry.... that's a touchy subject. The washing routine is something I'm insanely particular about so the most I usually let him do is run an extra rinse cycle and toss them in the dryer if I didn't have time. My next cloth diaper post will revolve around washing routine. I hope to share step-by-step photos and resources for you to help get the routine that will work best for you.

If you have any questions about anything discussed here please feel free to contact me or visit my Facebook page. As with almost everything I do, it's a learning process so my methods may change down the road but I'd love to help in any way I can if you need it.
Stay tuned for my washing routine and cloth diaper investment posts!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Part II - The Breastfeeding, Pumping, Working Mom

In Part I of my Breastfeeding, Pumping, Working Mom series I introduced you to some information that will get you started in the right direction to be successful at continuing the breastfeeding relationship with your child once you return to work. Now I would like to introduce you to how I manage it!

I work 10 hour shifts 4 days per week. I'm a telecommunicator for a police agency. There are always two of us on duty at a time (during the times I work at least) so when one breaks the other handles the job. There is no predicting what will or will not happen so taking a lunch or pump break is a gamble. Always has been, always will be. We just hope the worst holds out til the other can get back! I sometimes try to take a portable radio with me so I can keep up with how busy things may get.

A well-rounded pump break
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What my pump bag consists of:

I have the Medela Freestyle pump which comes with a very convenient shoulder bag. It also comes with a small cooler that I sometimes carry with me to place my bags of pumped milk in for discrete and more sterile storage in the refrigerator.

The pump takes up next to no room in the bag leaving plenty of space for (my) necessities:
  • Pump, tubing, and charger/batteries - You really can't pump without the pump...
  • Flanges, valves and membranes - Other essential parts to the pumping process!
  • Nursing pads - I prefer the disposable Lansinoh nursing pads. I do have some reusable pads but they don't fit very discretely, at least not the ones I own. I'm considering purchasing a better brand. 
  • Lanolin cream... just in case - Pumping can be kind of rough for first timers or anybody with cracks or cuts so using lanolin to help lubricate the flange/nipple may come in handy. 
  • Extra storage bottles or freezer bags - I only carry two pump bottles with me (with lids) and a stash of freezer bags. I pump in to the bottles then transfer to the bags.
  • A ballpoint pen - You will want this to label your storage bags
  • Wet bag or large Ziploc bag - I use a small wet bag (like you'd use for cloth diapers or swim suits) to store my pump parts in.
  • Hands-free pumping bra - That says it all!
  • Hand/Paper towel - When I take my bra off and remove the flanges milk always drips. Even if I do my best to get everything in to the bottle it is inevitable. Laying down a hand towel or burp rag for you to put on your lap/table to catch the drippies is a helpful tool.
  • Quick clean wipes - I use the Medela brand.
  • Baby clothing item or baby photo - Having a baby clothing item such as a receiving blanket or a photo of your baby with you can help your pumping output and inhibit letdown. I personally do not do this with my son but did it with my daughter.

A typical night of pumping at work:
After I had my daughter in 2008 I went back to work at 12 weeks. At that stage breastfeeding is well established in most cases and you likely know about how many times you'll need to pump per shift to keep from getting overly full and to ensure you are getting enough milk. I pumped 4 times per night in 15 or so minute increments for probably 4 or 5 weeks. I began to do my research and learned that I was over producing a LOT, and that my little girl was over eating  LOT. I was seriously pumping about 30 ounces. We started putting the tips on How to bottle feed the breastfed baby in to play. I was then able to safely, without risk of not pumping enough milk, cut back to 3 times per night, sometimes I would only pump twice. I loved pumping then. It made me feel good about myself and gave me a sense of pride!

With my son I started back to work at 4 weeks post-partum. At that point my milk supply had not really leveled out and I got engorged fairly quickly. I pumped 3-4 times per night every couple of hours if possible. I hated (and still slightly dislike) pumping... My son hated not having mommy so the feeling was mutual! He wasn't eating much and once again I was way over-producing. After a couple of weeks I reduced pumping to 2-3 times per night. At the same time my son began to take bottles a little better and got on a more normal routine. I have been back to work about 3 months. I typically pump in the middle of my shift and then again when I get home at night. Sometimes I will manage to pump twice per shift and not have a need to pump once I get home. I have been maintaining my supply this way for approximately a 4 weeks.

My son will take anywhere from 10-16 ounces when I'm working. I pump between 14-20 ounces per shift.

***Keep in mind that I over produce considerably in terms of average pumping output. In 15 minutes I can get upwards of 10oz total. Some people will get far less, and there are a few that could get far more especially if you have more time. It will also depend on how long it has been since you last pumped/nursed.

This link will give you an idea of what is normal and what is abnormal: I'm not pumping enough milk. What can I do?***

Storing your pumped milk:
I transfer my milk in to freezer bags once I'm finished pumping. I date my bags, list how many ounces are in the bag and give the bag an inventory number. Yes, I inventory my milk. There is a slight obsession I have with keeping count of how much milk I have in my freezer. I'll get to that in a minute.

In the early weeks they suggest you freeze/store in small increments, like 2 ounces, because in all likelihood your baby will not eat that much if you introduce a bottle early, and they don't want you to risk wasting milk by thawing out too much. I always store in 4-5 ounce increments. The Lansinoh storage bags I use hold up to 6 ounces but to be safe 4 to 5 is my preferred maximum. That works for us. You can follow the Breastmilk Storage & Handling guidelines to help make the choice of how many ounces per bag you'd like to freeze.

At the end of the night I come home, add the milk I pumped to inventory sheets I have printed then place them in the freezer. I printed out several pages of an Excel spreadsheet that has Date, Inventory #, Ounces, and a column for notes. That milk then goes in my kitchen freezer before later going in to the deep freezer (which is inconveniently placed in an outside closet). I sort my milk in rows sequenced by inventory number. About 15 or so bags are put in a small basket that I set in the kitchen freezer for my husband to have easy access to throughout my work week, and also limits how often the deep freezer is open. He thaws one bag at a time as he needs them.

My milk is used on a rotation ensuring I go back and use the oldest milk first. Breastmilk can be properly stored in a deep freezer for 6-12 months. Rotating my milk will keep anything from going bad that way down the road I can donate the freshest milk possible when Maddox weans or I decide to stop giving him expressed milk.

This is my inventory sheet, basket of milk for hubby to use, and the unfortunate pile of milk I have gathered in the freezer that needs to go to the deep freezer... it's been too cold to go out there and sort it!
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Cleaning & Storing your pump parts while at work:
In my list above I suggested using a wet bag to store your parts when you are finished pumping. The awesome thing is you do not have to clean your parts in between every time you pump! As long as you have a refrigerator available you can use the parts again without washing. It only makes sense... as long as they are kept cold (just like your milk) they are safe to use again. A plastic bag will work just fine as well. Make sure you wash the parts at the end of the day.

If you need or want to clean your parts at work just make sure you have your basic necessities; dish soap, bottle brush or rag, and a towel/rag for drying. You can also use the microwave steam bags for sterilization. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the parts before using the steam bag. You can also sterilize them in the bag after a thorough soapy washing.

Worst-case scenario option: Clean wipes. Medela, and a few other brands, make clean wipes you can use to wipe your pump parts in the event you need to pump and a cool storing place or water is unavailable. I have a pack of these that stay in my bag. I rarely if ever use them for my parts but they come in very handy at cleaning my pumping area. The room I use is also used occasionally during day-time hours for other departmental needs so I like to keep the desk clean. Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing. Breastmilk drops for others to see and deal with are not.


That about does it... then we start all over the next day! Once you get back to work you'll get a routine going. Everybody has their own environment with different available options and needs. My goal is always to provide what information I can in order to help you succeed in yours.

If you ever have any questions please leave me a comment and I will get back to you ASAP!