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Cheers! You just brought a tiny human into the world. You’re settling into a routine. You’ve managed to feed the baby in public. You’ve slept a couple of full nights. You’re ready to celebrate with that champagne you meant to have the day the baby was born, but were too tired to open for those first couple of months.


Before you toast, you check a parenting forum to see how long you should wait to nurse the baby after enjoying your bubbly. There, you find the advice to “pump and dump.” You don’t want your baby getting drunk or sustaining lifelong mental damage. So, just to be safe, you skip the second glass and pump out the “bad” milk. As you pour that liquid gold down the drain, you decide not to drink again until your baby weans.

There is no need to pump and dump.

Popular baby websites – the kind that might pop up if you type “should I pump and dump?” into a search engine – offer rare agreement on this particular parenting issue: there is no need to pump and dump.

You’ll find Parents and The Bump, both of which tell women it’s okay to enjoy a few drinks while breastfeeding, although the first limits that to one or two drinks a week while the other limits to one or two drinks a day. There’s BabyCenter, which accurately identifies the time when alcohol is most concentrated in breast milk. There’s a well-sourced piece from KellyMom that digs into the scholarly debate on breastfeeding and drinking. All of these sites identify a drinking mom’s milk as safe: the only reason to “pump and dump” is engorgement when you can’t easily feed the baby or store the milk.

This widespread agreement stems from a fairly simple explanation. When a woman is pregnant, her blood alcohol content is the baby’s blood alcohol content. That’s why alcohol use is generally discouraged for pregnant mothers in the U.S. When a mother is nursing, her blood supplies the sugars, fats, and proteins that are converted to baby’s milk, which gets processed into its blood. One helpful piece on Slate does the math on how much alcohol would be in a baby’s milk even if the mother was drunk:

“But even if you’ve refilled your glass a few times, there is very, very little alcohol in your milk – and very little ingested by your baby. If a 150-pound nursing mom downs four alcoholic drinks — say, four 5-ounce glasses of table wine — and then breast-feeds her 13-pound baby 4 ounces of milk when she’s at her tipsiest, her baby will end up with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.0038 percent — the same blood alcohol concentration her mom would have after consuming a mere 1.5 ounces of Bud Light (one-eighth of a 12-ounce bottle).”

In short, there is rare consensus on this particular parenting issue: a nursing mother’s milk is generally regarded as safe, even if she has been drinking. But looking at messaging boards on many parenting websites suggests that many breastfeeding women have not gotten this message, or perhaps heard and were skeptical of it.

The real question to answer, then, is not should women pump and dump, it’s why do women believe they should?

Why the pump and dump persists.

The practice of “pump and dump” may be so prevalent because the term is so memorable. Any headline that invokes “pump and dump,” even to negate the practice, may unintentionally reinforce it, because a three-word rhyming verb phrase is hard to forget.

Another reason for the persistence of “pump and dump” may be that while the verb-based command is simple and memorable, the science debunking it is complicated. One problem of using scientific literature to research such questions is that no one study can provide all the answers, but once a study is picked up by the news, its findings become solidified as “fact.”

That’s why review articles, which examine all of the findings a scientific community has come to about a particular topic, can be more enlightening. They weigh the different findings against each other and offer a useful summary of the literature so far.

One such review appeared in a 2013 issue of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology. One of the more interesting findings of the review was the confirmation that babies consume less milk when their mothers drink. The current theory, while not yet well-understood, is that alcohol consumption slows the body’s production of prolactin and oxytocin, which regulate milk production and ejection. But as for drinking while nursing, authors conclude that:

“It appears biologically implausible that occasional exposure to such amounts should be related to clinically meaningful effects to the nursing children. The effect of occasional alcohol consumption on milk production is small, temporary and unlikely to be of clinical relevance. Generally, there is little clinical evidence to suggest that breastfed children are adversely affected in spite of the fact that almost half of all lactating women in Western countries ingest alcohol occasionally.”

It’s also possible that the “pump and dump” is tied to pervasive judgement of mothers in our culture. A look at where the term comes from can help us unpack these judgments. The term “pump and dump” did not initially apply to nursing mothers, but instead to the financial industry, where to “pump and dump” meant to fraudulently advertise a stock to artificially inflate its prices and then sell off one’s own shares at a tidy profit. This nefarious purpose is echoed in other meanings of “pump and dump,” among them gasoline theft, a one-night stand, as well as a few more colorful, NSFW meanings best explored on Urban Dictionary.

When the breastfeeding “pump and dump” is put in the context of these other meanings, we see that all of them imply judgment. In the stock market, he who pumps and dumps is defrauding innocent investors for his own gain. In dating and relationships, he who pumps and dumps is committing a similar type of fraud, albeit for a shorter-term gain.

What about the woman who pumps and dumps? She, too, is perceived to have put her child in harm’s way by focusing on her own pleasure (the glass of wine) over her baby’s health. Pumping and dumping that “liquid gold” is almost a penance for the woman, who, like Pink reheating her decaf coffee, is perceived to have acted shamefully.

Of course, the other pumpers and dumpers have committed a far worse act than the breastfeeding mother. In fact, the greater sin may be in throwing out the milk, which has less alcohol than kefir, kombucha, juice, or homemade bread. But it’s likely the same people who judge mothers for drinking while nursing might also judge them for giving kids juice and gluten.

A simple tool for drinking when breastfeeding.

Many of the articles above – including the scientific review article – mention Motherisk’s nomogram for breastfeeding mothers, which can be used to determine roughly how many hours and minutes it will take for drinks to be cleared from her blood (and thus, her breast milk).

The problem with such a tool is that it sets as its goal having absolutely no alcohol in the mother’s blood, and there is, as yet, no scientific evidence to support this is necessary. It’s this kind of rounding down to “no safe amount” that leaves women drinking a glass of wine and then thinking they should pull out their pumps.

The drinking-while-breastfeeding argument also loses steam because the case for not drinking when breastfeeding has slogans like “pump and dump” and “you wouldn’t put beer in a baby bottle.” What the drinking-while-breastfeeding proponents need is a slogan as memorable – if not more memorable – than pump and dump: DRINK.

Dump your pump. You do not need it, even if you’ve consumed an imprudent amount of alcohol.

Relax. If you are the kind of parent who is worried about “pump and dump” because you fear alcohol getting into your child’s milk, then you are probably also the kind of parent not drinking enough to cause harm to your baby. Give yourself a break and enjoy whatever indulgence you’ve been disallowing yourself, be it a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, or just a night out without the baby.

Imbibe. That bottle of champagne you were saving, your favorite wine, a cheap beer. Whatever your drink of choice is, enjoy a good pour of it.

Nurse. Enjoy your drink while you are nursing. Preferably in public. The alcohol will not be absorbed into your bloodstream until about the time the baby’s done feeding. Plus, you will have an opportunity to discuss the safety of drinking while nursing to those who came over to tell you to stop drinking.

Keep your wits about you. Are you too drunk to drive? You can still safely feed your baby, but you shouldn’t be the one carrying him upstairs.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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I had big plans to be a "good mom" this summer. There were going to be chore charts, reading goals, daily letter writing practice, and cursive classes. There would be no screen time until the beds were made, and planned activities for each day of the week.

Today was the first day of summer vacation and our scheduled beach day. But here's what we did instead: Lounged in our pj's until 11 am, baked the girl's pick, chocolate chip cookie brownies, started an art project we never finished, then moved to the pool.

It's so easy to be pressured by things we see on social. Ways to challenge our kids and enrich their summer. But let's be real—we're all tired. Tired of chores, tired of schedules and places to be, tired of pressure, and tired of unrealistic expectations.

So instead of a schedule, we're doing nothing this summer. Literally NOTHING.

No camps. No classes, and no curriculums.

Instead, we're going to see where each day takes us. I've dubbed this the "Summer of Me," so workouts and clean eating are a priority for me. And also giving our girls the freedom to pick what they want to do.

We may go to a local pool and check out the swimming programs. And we join the local YMCA. But whatever we do—it will be low key.

It will include family time, too much TV, a few trips, lots of sunshine, some new roller skates, water balloons, plenty of boredom, rest, relaxation, and reading. (Because mama likes to read!)

So if you haven't figured out what you're doing this summer, you're not alone. And guess what? It's OKAY! Your kids will be fine and so will you.

Originally posted on Kristen Hewitt's blog. Check out her post on 30 ways to have fun doing almost nothing this summer.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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When we consider all the skills our kids will need to succeed in the future, what comes to mind? Perhaps creativity, tech skills, or an excellent understanding of math might be at the top of many parents' lists. Social-emotional skills, like empathy, compassion, or the ability to understand another person's viewpoint may not be the ones you thought of right away, but deep down you know they matter.

We've all had those co-workers who didn't know how to listen to our ideas or friends who couldn't compromise with others. We know that in the work world and in our personal life, emotional skills are key to developing and maintaining healthy relationships.

If you are the parent of a toddler, you know that young children are inherently self-centered. It's not some faulty aspect of their character or a misstep of parenting skills. Young children simply do not have the brain maturity to consider another person's perspective or needs just yet—their brain physically is not ready to handle that kind of mental work.

However, child development research shows us that we can do a few things along the developmental path to help foster social-emotional skills in our kids. With a little help from us, our kids' brains can develop with meaningful connections that tune them into the feelings of others.

Here's how:

1. Treat others how you want your kids to treat others.

How we talk to our kids becomes their internal dialogue. We know from research that this goes for emotional skills as well. A recent study showed that when parents talk to their kids more about how other people might be feeling, the kids had better perspective-taking abilities—the ability to see a situation from another person's point of view.

This, of course, is the basis of many emotional skills, especially empathy. Just by talking about another person's feelings, kids begin to develop those crucial brain connections that help them develop empathy.

It's worth pointing out that very young children under ages 3-4 do not have the brain maturity to really understand another person's perspective. They lack a crucial skill that psychologists call Theory of Mind, meaning they can't understand the mind of another person.

However, our urgings and thoughtful phrasing to point out how another person might be feeling can only help them down this developmental path. Then, once their little brain matures, they will be in the habit of hearing and understanding the feelings of others.

2. Model positive emotional behavior in daily life.

It's probably not surprising to learn that how we react to our kids' feelings influences their emotional development. When your child gets upset, do you get angry or ruffled by their big emotions? We are all human, of course, so sometimes our kids' emotions are the exact triggers that fuel our big feelings, too. However, if we can remain the calm in the emotional storm for our kids, their development will benefit. Through modeling emotional regulation, over time our kids will learn how to self-regulate as well.

One study, in fact, showed that toddlers whose parents exhibited anger or over-reacted to tantrums were likely to have more tantrums and negative emotionality by the end of the study. However, the opposite dynamic can happen, too. Parents who model firm, but calm emotional regulation help their kids learn these skills as well.

3. Don’t be afraid to show your emotions.

Many times, we feel that one of our main jobs as a parent is to protect our children from the big, often overwhelming emotions of adults. For instance, we try not to break down crying or become red-faced with anger in front of our kids. It just feels too big for them to handle and perhaps not developmentally appropriate.

As they mature, however, older kids are able to handle a bit more discussion and expression of honest emotions. Have you noticed that kids usually pick up on the fact that you are upset even if you try to hide it? Kids are naturally curious and, many times, very sensitive to the emotional tenor at home. If they are developmentally ready, this can be a good time to have more discussions about emotions and how to handle them.

For example, my 9-year-old is playing a lot of baseball this summer and always wants me to pitch to him so he can practice batting. Now, I am not a very skilled player so my pitches often go off course or are too weak. He had gotten in the habit of correcting my pitching or (more likely) complaining about it every time we played.

After repeated experiences with this, I was not only annoyed but it also sort of hurt my feelings—so I finally told him how I felt. Guess what? His behavior at practice time changed dramatically! The mere fact of him realizing that his mom has feelings too really made him think about his words more carefully.

These types of interaction can become part of your "emotion coaching." It may sound silly but it can make a big impact for kids, especially as they grow older and are more able to really understand the emotional lesson. On some level, it's nice that our kids think we are superheroes, but it's also crucial that they understand that we are still human, with real feelings.

The magic of helping our kids develop empathy doesn't happen in well-planned lessons or elaborate activities. The real magic happens in the small, simple interactions and discussions we have with our kids each day.

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Sometimes it can feel like you never get a minute to even finish a thought—let alone a to-do list. When your day is packed with caretaking, your own needs get pushed back. So when you finally get to lie down at the end of the day, all those thoughts are waiting for you. While we haven't figured out the secret to keeping you from over-analyzing every.single.thing. (sorry, mama!), we do believe you must carve out time for you. Because that rest is just as important—and you've certainly earned it.

XO,

#TeamMotherly

PS: We spoke to Jessica Alba and she gave us the lowdown on why she stopped breastfeeding, and Nordstrom is having their anniversary sale until August 5th. Here's everything we want!

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