Amy's Corner. our lactation consultant answers your questions about nursing.

Meagan’s Breastfeeding Story of Determination

Meagan's Breastfeeding Story of Determination“I’m Meagan, a single mom of two boys. With my first, we struggled with latch issues due to an undiagnosed lip tie. I pumped around the clock every 3 hours for his first 3 weeks, and FINALLY got him to start latching successfully at 3 weeks old with the help of the wonderful lactation nurse at the hospital where I delivered. He continued to nurse until 27 months of age when I hit my 3rd trimester with my second.

Now, my second was a whole different ball game. Even though he was latching, he started losing weight right away. Even with getting his lip & tongue tie lasered, he still wasn’t gaining. I nursed & pumped around
the clock. I set alarms for every 2hrs. I took all the supplements. I tried Meagan's Breastfeeding Story of Determinationsupplementing with formula. He was borderline failure to thrive.

He finally was diagnosed with a milk protein allergy at 8 weeks. I cut all dairy from my diet, got a prescription for the really expensive hypoallergenic formula to supplement calories, and saw a pediatric allergist & nutritionist. Finally I got him strictly back on the breast at 6 months.  He outgrew his allergy by 10 months, and he’s currently a happy & healthy 17 month old who is very attached to nursing.”

Meagan, Manchester/Bolton, CT La Leche League

Award-Winning Ravalli County WIC Supports Breastfeeding Moms

Award-Winning Ravalli County WIC Supports Breastfeeding Moms“Our local staff works hard to promote breastfeeding. Our local agency recently won recognition for having the best initiation rate for breastfeeding of all mid-size agencies in the State of Montana. Our office staff established the peer counselor program in Montana, and trains staff at other local agencies in the Loving Support model. Our agency was awarded a Loving Support Gold Award in 2015 for our efforts, and was the only agency in Montana to receive that award. 

Many participants do not know anything about breastfeeding and many have no family members nearby to support them. Our staff offers breastfeeding education at each WIC appointment and offers breastfeeding classes, including one-on one education when needed. These efforts help inform our participants of the many benefits of breastfeeding, offer basic information, and instill confidence. This is particularly true for very young moms, fist-time moms, and moms who have tried to breastfeed in the past but were unsuccessful.  

Some examples of moms who have benefited from our staff to support and promote breastfeeding:

A mom with three small children has breastfed them all, but as she has encountered barriers such as mastitis and working out how to feed her infant during back surgery, and also how to navigate the need to multitask with sometimes limited energy, our staff has tried to help. By offering encouragement, praise, support, empathy, and problem-solving assistance, our staff was able to help her through such barriers. As a peer counselor who has been through similar experiences as a breastfeeding mom, I was able to relate in a supportive way.

A Native American mom in a population with less than average breastfeeding rates was able to successfully breastfeed her child for over nine months in spite of economic and cultural barriers. Our staff was able to help by listening, encouraging, praising, giving basic information, and making our breastfeeding cell number available so that she was able to access someone when she felt the need. We were able to establish a relationship of trust with her.”

Cassandra, Ravalli County Montana WIC

Breastfeeding Body Cleanse: Detox while Breastfeeding

No matter how “clean” we try to be, our bodies ingest, absorb and inhale toxins that can burden our bodily systems.  Doing a regular body cleanse while breastfeeding is not recommended as most limit essential food groups and calories that are needed to sustain a healthy milk supply for your baby.  Instead, you can employ a few safe and healthful breastfeeding body cleanse methods to help you detox while breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding Body Cleanse: Detox while BreastfeedingThe good news about toxins is that your body inherently works to get rid of them every day.  Many of your organs and bodily systems including your kidneys, liver, urinary tract and digestive system are your body’s way of purging waste that could be harmful to your body.  Therefore, a vital part of cleansing is clearing the pathways for waste elimination.  You’ll also want to be preventative by avoiding certain types of foods and substances, and of course you want to consume and use products that will help draw out pathogens for a cleaner, healthier body.

While breastfeeding, you should try to be as natural as possible.  It’s not only great for you, it will also help your baby’s precious, pure body as she continues to develop and mature.  Here are some breastfeeding body cleanse suggestions:

Diet:  A clean diet is a great start to detox while breastfeeding. This includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables – select organic when possible.  Lean proteins, bone broths and healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids are also terrific choices for a nutritious breastfeeding diet.  Fiber is crucial to cleanse the digestive tract, and cultured foods (like yogurt) and fermented foods help as well.

Supplements:  Supplements are a great way to help clean your system.  First, you should continue taking prenatal vitamins while breastfeeding as they contain many critical elements your baby needs such as folic acid and DHA.  A daily probiotic can help keep your digestive system running smoothly by creating a healthy environment in your gut.  Other supplements like salt tablets are known to help clean the body too.

Hydration:  Pure water is the best form of hydration.  Breastfeeding moms should get a minimum of 64 oz. of water daily.  Try drinking a serving of water during and in-between each feeding.  Adding unrefined sea salt to your water can speed up the cleansing process.  Pure fruit or vegetable juices contributes to hydration as well and can supplement your nutrition if your diet lacks produce.

Skin:  As your largest organ, your skin absorbs a lot of toxins. Fortunately, it is also a method of purging toxins too.  In addition to cooling you off, sweat is your body’s natural way of eliminating harmful substances, so don’t be afraid to sweat.  Light exercise can help you work up a sweat and is good for your muscles, joints and cardiovascular system.  Taking a bath in Epsom salt draws out impurities or you can dry brush your skin before showering to help cleanse and energize your skin.  After bathing, use natural oils to moisturize and replenish your skin’s nutrients.

Mental & Emotional Balance:  Being a new mom is hard and can take a toll on your mental and emotional state. Practice healthy self-care habits daily including relaxation, meditation, deep breathing, exercise and plenty of sleep.  Find your personal way to release, whether that is laughing, crying, appreciation, dancing, singing, whatever!  Also participate in your own hobbies apart from your children such as sports, crafts, entertainment, massage, gardening or anything else that you enjoy and keeps your body and mind at peace.

A breastfeeding body cleanse is a wonderful way to create inner balance for yourself, which will benefit your baby too!

Sources:  Eat Naked Now, The Coconut Mama, and Real Fit Mama

Remembering my Many Breastfeeding Successes

Remembering my Many Breastfeeding Successes“At first I thought ‘I don’t have a Success Story.’  My daughter latched easily shortly after birth, and we just passed her first birthday a few weeks ago, still nursing.  It was my goal to make it a year, and we did!  Right there is a success!

Then I thought about all the other breastfeeding successes we’ve had in the last year:

  • Giving up dairy for about 6 months in an attempt to help with my daughter’s colic, which started around two weeks old.  I have no way to prove if it helped, but it seemed to make a difference.
  • Being able to give surplus breast milk to my best friend and her daughter, who needed it due to supply issues.
  • Pumping at work, despite the awkwardness of tucking myself into the corner, on the floor of an empty office with a glass door.  I work at an engineering company, with mostly men, and was terrified at first, but felt I had to do this for my daughter.
  • Taking my lunch breaks to drive 10 min back and forth to daycare to feed her because just pumping during the day caused my supply to drop.
  • Remembering my Many Breastfeeding SuccessesLearning how to cope when her teeth came in and she thought biting mom was an awesome game.
  • Taking supplements, pumping hourly, eating oatmeal and drinking my own weight in water when my supply started to drop, determined to keep breastfeeding.
  • Getting over my fears and becoming comfortable nursing in public after I realized I needed to be able to go out and about for my own mental health.

So no, it’s not an amazing tale of overcoming adversity, but it’s a lot of success!”

Laurel, Manchester/Bolton, CT La Leche League

Starting Solids: Getting your Baby Interested in Food

After about six months of breast milk, you and your baby may be eager to start solid foods.  Then again, some babies are very happy continuing their regular milk diet and have little interest in food.  When it’s time to start solid foods, you may need a few strategies for getting your baby interested in food.  We’re here to help with some tips for starting solids.

Tip #1: Start Solids between 4 and 6 Months

This age range is when most babies show signs of readiness for starting solids.  Before then your baby’s digestive system cannot handle anything but milk.  If you wait much longer than six months, your baby may have a harder time adopting a new diet and won’t be getting the nutrients he needs as he becomes more active and his brain development continues.

Starting Solids: Getting your Baby Interested in FoodTip #2:  Talk about Food

Chances are your baby has seen you eat a time or two.  As you are eating, talk about how yummy your food is and how you bite, chew and shallow.  Show your baby the color of your food and the process of eating.  When you put your baby in his high chair for his first meal, continue the conversation and explain that it is his turn to try food.

Tip #3:  Don’t Start Solids on an Empty Stomach

If your baby is starving when you sit him down for his early solid meals he is more likely to reject the food.  Instead, nurse him for a bit and then give him a snack of solid food.  Afterwards nurse him again.

Tip #4:  Breast Milk makes it Familiar

You can mix breast milk into any pureed food.  The taste of your breast milk may make solid foods more palatable for your baby at the beginning since he knows and likes the taste.  You can slowly wean your baby from breast milk in solid foods as he becomes more accustomed to new flavors.

Tip #5:  Not Working? Try Again Later

You may have thought your baby was ready at 4 months but perhaps he is not.  If starting solids doesn’t work at first, try again the next day or even the next week.  The same goes for certain foods.  Just because your baby didn’t like green beans today doesn’t mean he won’t like them next month.

Tip #6:  Keep Breastfeeding

Starting solids is experimental more than nutritional at first.  You’ll probably find more food on the floor and in your baby’s adorable crevices than he actually swallowed.  That’s OK!  “Playing” with food is part of the learning process.  Keep breastfeeding to meet the bulk of the nutritional needs of your baby during the transition.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least one year.

Tip #7:  Follow the Wait Rule

To determine whether or not your baby has an adverse reaction to certain foods, wait two to three days between introducing new foods.

Tip #8:  Start with (almost) Anything

It used to be that pediatricians recommended starting solids with only rice cereal.  Nowadays you can start anywhere, including with meats, legumes and fruit.  You can test a variety of foods in any order to diversify your baby’s nutrient intake and palate.  Don’t be afraid to add natural spices or flavoring too.

Tip #9:  Introduce Healthy Eating Habits Now

Healthy eating habits at the get-go set your child up for a lifetime.  Let your baby determine how much food to eat and the pace at which he eats it.  Never force your baby to eat.  Also, have a meal-time ritual at least once a day where you sit with your child and eat together.  Stick to healthy food choices for your baby.  Soon enough temptations will kick in but now is the time you have complete control over your baby’s healthy diet.

Nurture your Baby’s Sense of Hearing

At birth, your baby’s hearing is her strongest sense.  While not completely developed, a newborn baby’s hearing is very keen and already receptive to familiar sounds such as the voice of her mother.  Because the interpretation of sound occurs in the brain, hearing is linked to many stages of development ranging from gross motor skills to speech.  Today we’ll be exploring ways to nurture your baby’s sense of hearing.

A baby’s sense of hearing develops around 20 to 24 weeks in utero.  Many studies have shown that babies can hear in the womb and some respond to external sounds like music, loud clamoring or their mother’s voice.  Babies often have fluid in their inner ears at birth, which may limit what they hear and is why they are more interested in sounds with high pitches and frequencies.

Since a mother’s voice is familiar and usually higher pitched, babies are extremely interested in what mom’s have to say!  Reading, singing and talking to your baby is a terrific way to stimulate your baby’s sense of hearing in the brain that will be used for all sorts of fine and gross motor development, as well as mental development, in the future.  Hearing your conversations, whether you’re speaking to her or not, will help your baby understand language.  She’ll start to notice voice inflection, cadence, tone and the rhythm of speech.  All of these assets are important for your baby’s eventual speech development.

Reading to your baby is essential as well.  For hearing to be useful, it must have context and meaning.  Identifying objects and their corresponding words is vital to this level of comprehension.  Much of this occurs naturally as your baby is constantly learning from her surroundings.  But you can nurture your baby’s sense of hearing by reading books and pointing to pictures when you say the words.

The same is true for identifying objects and the noises they make.  During playtime, use lots of noisy toys like rattles, musical instruments and other “talking” toys.  When you are outside and hear cars, airplanes or birds, verbalize what your baby is hearing to make the connection.  You can also help your baby make noises to understand different surfaces and wearing rattles on your baby’s arms or feet can encourage body awareness.

Nurture your Baby’s Sense of HearingMusic is another amazing way to nurture your baby’s sense of hearing.  Language and music share a nerve pathway in the brain and are neighbors in the brain community.  Music is interpreted using both sides of the brain so exposing your baby to complex music helps your baby’s brain hemispheres coordinate and work together.  This is vital for fine and gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination and cognition.  Because balance resides in the inner ear, music will also promote better balance.  Any music will do so pick something you and your baby will enjoy.

At about two months old your baby may pause when she hears noise and she will begin to make vowel sounds like “ahhh” and “ohhh.”  In the four to five month range your baby may begin mirroring your facial expressions when you speak and babble using consonant sounds.  When your baby talks to you, talk back to help her understand the nature of conversation and that you are interested in what she has to say.  Pretty soon she’ll probably be talking your ear off and it all began with these strategies to nurture your baby’s sense of hearing.

Sources:  Aimee’s Babies and Baby Center


Breastfeeding Promotes Healthy Eating Habits

Breastfeeding Promotes Healthy Eating Habits We believe World Breastfeeding Week is the best time of year because the whole world focuses on our favorite topic: breastfeeding.  This year’s theme, Breastfeeding, a key to sustainable development, reminds us that breastfeeding is about setting the stage and paving the path to a healthy future for our children.  This week we’ve already talked about how breastfeeding promotes health and well-being for babies and mothers, is good for the environment, helps personal and global economies, and is sustainable even for mothers who return to work.  Today we’re looking at breastfeeding and healthy eating for a lifetime.

Healthy eating habits may be one of the best preventative healthcare measures you can instill in your children, and it all starts with breastfeeding.  Obesity is a major epidemic in the U.S. with estimates of up to 70% of the population being overweight or obese.  Childhood obesity has doubled in the past 30 years.  While we’re sure most parents would put their child’s health at the top of their wish list, clearly healthy eating is not a priority for most families.

Interestingly, studies show that breastfeeding positively influences healthy eating well beyond infancy in several ways.  Researchers from Monell Chemical Senses Center discovered babies who are exposed to a variety of flavors in utero and through breast milk are predisposed to enjoying diverse flavors later in life.  This means that mothers who eat a range of wholesome foods during pregnancy and while breastfeeding are passing along healthy eating habits inherently.  This method seems a lot better than arguing with a 4-year-old to eat broccoli.

Furthermore, the Monell study concluded that the food a baby eats makes an emotional impression as well.  So those exposed to healthy flavors will be more emotionally inclined to make healthier selections as they age.  The study also showed that a child’s taste preferences are solidified in toddlerhood and changing these likes and dislikes is very difficult throughout childhood.  Therefore the window of time to instill healthful eating is narrow.

A report from the CDC has more great news about breastfeeding and healthy eating habits for your child’s future.  In their study, children who were breastfed for at least six months were more likely to make healthy food choices at age six including eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking more water and consuming less sugary drinks.

Yet another study from the NIH found breastfeeding helps form self-regulatory indicators for satiety that remain with a baby for their entire lives.  Being able to self-regulate and stop eating when the body feels full is a crucial skill to avoid obesity.  This research supports breastfeeding’s impact on metabolic imprinting.

Once babies reach six months of age, complimentary feeding of solids can begin.  While this may not be your child’s first experience with flavor, it is his first direct experience with food.  Starting your baby on healthy complimentary foods while continuing to breastfeed for at least one year is essential for establishing and maintaining a healthy diet for a lifetime.  And chances are, if you want your child to truly absorb and adopt healthy eating habits, you need to model them yourself.  Initiating a family-wide wholesome diet when your baby starts solids is a great way for the entire family to join together for the health of your baby.

Early introduction of a healthy diet shapes healthy eating habits for the future.  You have the opportunity to be your child’s role model in many ways.  Let healthy eating be one of them, starting with breastfeeding!

Sources:  The New York Times, National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) and ABC News

Making a Difference for Future Breastfeeding Mothers

Making a Difference for Future Breastfeeding Mothers“As if Breastfeeding isn’t hard enough, I started my journey without knowing a single person that had breastfed. I was more than under-educated about the process. But like all determined mothers I was going to succeed at all costs.

I made my dreams come true: I began to painfully, tiredly, and happily nourish my little girl. Then suddenly I hit my biggest obstacle yet, returning to work. My employer was the definition of unsupportive. I had to request for them not to put me in a bathroom to pump. I had to beg to be given adequate break time. I was forced to listen to degrading comments by my management including “you would just flop them out anywhere”, and “Danielle probably has some milk for you”.

All of these events came to a head when my little girl turned one. My employer informed me they would no longer provide any breaks for me to pump, except for lunch, in my ten hour work day.  As a resident of Tennessee I was very aware that my pumping breaks were protected by law. I promptly requested to speak with human resources. After that day I armed myself with knowledge of laws and recommendations by healthcare professionals.

Making a Difference for Future Breastfeeding MothersOur Human Resource VP’s showed up to my local branch unannounced in front of all my colleagues and asked to speak to me. I gladly obliged! After discussing my right and needs with Human resources our company polices were update to accommodate nursing mothers until age two.

Needless to say, I no longer work for this company. I am happy that I could make a difference to future mother that happen to work for the company, but I need to be somewhere that was going to support my entire journey. My new employer, Eastman Chemical Company has been nothing but supportive. I can’t say enough good things about their support for nursing mothers.

My daughter just turned two and we continue to breastfeed. Even when faced with possibly losing a source of income, I stood my ground and made a difference for me and future mothers!”

Danielle, Elizabethton Birth Rally & BABE Breastfeeding Coalition

Breastfeeding and the Workplace

World Breastfeeding Week is in full swing and we’re proud to support this amazing cause every year.  When it comes to a mother’s choice to breastfeed and her desire to provide the very best nutrition for her baby, sometimes there are barriers to success, especially when mothers work outside the home and spend time away from their babies.  Breastfeeding after returning to work can be challenging but is completely possible with the proper support.  Today were taking a look at breastfeeding and the working mom.

Breastfeeding and the WorkplaceBreastfeeding and the workplace are a critical component of the theme of World Breastfeeding Week 2016 – Breastfeeding, a key to sustainable development.  Women make up nearly half of the labor force in the U.S. and almost 75% of these women work full-time.  As such a substantial part of the country’s workforce and as a vital element to the family unit’s income, women are a valuable asset in the workplace for businesses and families.  Therefore, supporting mothers as they start families and make responsible feeding choices for their babies should be crucial to businesses.

Unfortunately, many moms do not feel their employers value their decision to have babies and breastfeed.  Despite the many strides in overcoming gender inequities in the workplace, childbearing and breastfeeding continues to be an issue that holds women back in their careers.

When it comes to breastfeeding and the working mom, there are a few eye-opening insights that prevent mothers from achieving their breastfeeding goals.  Studies indicate women who return to work full-time are half as likely to be breastfeeding their babies by 6 months.  Also, women who have shorter maternity leaves terminate breastfeeding earlier than those with longer maternity leaves.

The obvious barrier to breastfeeding success for mothers who work full-time is separation from their babies.  Allowing mothers to be productive at work and continue breastfeeding, requires three critical elements from employers:  a substantial maternity leave, a flexible schedule, and the ability to pump.

First, an adequate maternity leave helps moms solidify a breastfeeding relationship with their babies.  This not only allows mother’s time to recover from childbirth and adjust to life with a new baby, it also gives moms a chance to nurture their milk supply by breastfeeding their babies as often as necessary.  When moms and babies have the opportunity and time to learn to breastfeed, they have a greater likelihood of success.  Maternity leaves of two or more months can help families establish a healthy breastfeeding routine before moms return to work.

When the time comes for mom to go back to work, flexibility can make the transition much easier.  Flexibility can come in various forms including adjusting her work schedule, job sharing, changing roles for less time-sensitive assignments, and requiring less travel, to name a few.  Offering flexibility also boosts a new mom’s morale and increases job satisfaction.  Employees feel more valued and are happier when their employers are willing to work with their needs to ensure a healthy work-life balance.

Of course when mothers work full-time and are separated from their babies, they must pump to maintain their milk supply and have breast milk to provide their babies during their absence.  Pumping requires time, space and tolerance from management and peers. Although pumping breaks are not required by law, many employers are open to helping new moms.  Before returning to work, new moms are encouraged to discuss their desire to pump with their supervisor.  For the space, a mother can request a clean room that locks with a chair and an outlet for the breast pump.  She’ll also need to pump several times a day without feeling she is not fulfilling her duties, being shamed or sabotaging her career.

Although many employers may not see it this way, ultimately allowing mothers the opportunity for breastfeeding success benefits everyone.  Breastfed babies are sick less often, which means mothers are present at work more often.  Breastfeeding is also great for a mother’s health.  This combination of health benefits is less taxing on the business’ health insurance too.  Mothers will also enjoy their jobs more and feel dedicated to their work if they are allowed to achieve these personal goals alongside maintaining their careers.

With strategic planning and commitment, mothers can be successful in meeting their breastfeeding goals when returning to work.


The Economic Advantages of Breastfeeding

This week we’re talking about the plethora of amazing benefits of breastfeeding in honor of World Breastfeeding Week 2016.  The theme this year is Breastfeeding, a key to sustainable development.  This concept encompasses many aspects of breastfeeding including the economic impact on families and the community at large.  There are many economic advantages of breastfeeding because, simply put, breastfeeding saves money.  Here’s how…

The Economic Advantages of BreastfeedingMost moms would agree that breastfeeding is “priceless” and it is virtually costless too.  All that is truly necessary are willing and dedicated moms and babies.  At the family level, breastfeeding is less expensive than formula because there’s no purchase necessary.  In most cases, mothers can produce enough breast milk to sustain their babies for the recommended 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding and at least one entire year of breastfeeding.

Of course we would argue that nursing bras are great assets to help make breastfeeding easier and some mothers find breastfeeding more comfortable with nursing pillows, breast pads and nipple cream.  Some moms may need to visit a lactation consultant or purchase a breast pump, both of which can be pricey at first glance but may actually be free.  We’ll get to that in a minute.

On the flip side, it is estimated that formula costs between $800 and $3,000 a year, depending on the brand and specific needs of a baby.  Plus, there are added costs of bottles, bottle and formula accessories (cleaning supplies, nipples, caps, water, drying racks, measuring utensils, etc…) and the energy cost of getting formula from a store.

Those are all obvious cost savings, but there are many more ways that breastfeeding saves money.

Since the Affordable Care Act breastfeeding expenses are often tax deductable and some are covered by insurance companies.  Many insurance policies cover the rental or purchase of breast pumps as part of preventative healthcare initiatives.  They may also reimburse for lactation consultations.  If your insurance company does not cover these items, don’t be deterred by the sticker price.  Breast pumps and other breastfeeding necessities are tax deductable and can be purchased with pre-tax healthcare flex spending accounts.

All of this is fabulous news for your wallet, yet there are even more economic advantages of breastfeeding for you, your community and the nation.

As we all know, breastfeeding is the healthiest food on the planet for babies.  It is so healthy, it can save lives.  With its immune boosting capabilities, breast milk prevents many illnesses and diseases.  Analysts estimate that if 90% of moms exclusively breastfeed for at least 6 months, the U.S. would save around $13 million in healthcare costs.  Some of that would be savings for your own pocket, some for your employer and some for the country as a whole.  These healthcare savings include doctors’ visits, medications, hospital stays, surgical procedures and much more.  And they aren’t only for babies.  Because breastfeeding has health benefits for mothers too, moms are also included in these medical cost-savings. Plus, mothers have to miss less work when they or their children are not sick as often, which can increase earning potential.

The economic advantages of breastfeeding are quite astounding when you think beyond just the immediate impact of breastfeeding vs. formula.  Breastfeeding truly saves money on many levels.  Happy World Breastfeed Week!

Sources: and SavingsAdvice

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the Milky Way: every mother has a story
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Things to do on Christmas Eve
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Ways for Dad to Bond with Baby
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ways to encourage Crossing the Midline
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ways to praise your child
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Ways to Say Goodbye to your Child
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Ways to Teach Sons to Respect Women
weaning breastfeeding
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What Kids Perceive about Marriage from their Parents
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What to do in a Car Crash when you’re Pregnant
what to do on Christmas Eve
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Why Breastfeeding Makes you Hungry and Thirsty
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