Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thank you for your compliments on our customer service!

Every day we receive emails from moms and retailers complimenting us on our customer service, including our fast shipping, follow-up, and attention to detail. As you can imagine, we enjoy reading the emails. But more than that, we appreciate that you notice and that our efforts mean a lot to you.

I grew up in a small town as did Pumpin' Pal's founder and CEO, Jon Gillan. We both came from families who owned businesses in these towns (my family still lives in the same town and last year celebrated 75 years in the same business). And Jon tells stories of being up late night-after-night during the holidays, helping put together toys and tools in his family's hardware store so that families would have them in time for Christmas. The values we share are honesty, integrity and utmost concern for doing what's right by and for our customers. In a small town, if you don't take care of your customers, your business simply won't thrive.

From the very beginning, Pumpin' Pal International has internalized these values. I love hearing from and corresponding with moms. It's not about "big business" -- it's about working with and caring for one mom, one retailer, one hospital at a time -- to become a big business with small-town values.

Do we make mistakes? Yes, every once in awhile we ship the wrong product or forget to send an invoice, etc., but we do our best to own our mistakes and do what it takes to make it right. And thank you for your gracious responses when we do make mistakes. It's about being human. That's what I like about this business and our company . . . we're all human beings doing our best at any given moment.

Here's to taking care of things important to all of us!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Mom in Greece Will Soon be Pumping Comfortably!

When we created our Super Shields five years ago, I remember thinking that other moms around the world were experiencing the same back pain and discomfort I experienced by having to lean forward. At the time, we were just beginning to introduce our products to lactation consultants in the United States and trying to gain their acceptance of our products. It was an uphill journey -- since we weren't affiliated with the large pump companies, many were skeptical about our products, especially our Super Shields. It took a few years, but the tides began to turn as more and more began using our products to help their moms. Now, many lactation consultants actually come to our booth at lactation conferences and stand there telling their colleagues how helpful and indispensable our products are (we love every minute of these unsolicited "campaigns!")

Last October, we showed our products at an international lactation conference called VELB, held in Vienna, Austria. We realized that our products could help moms everywhere and decided to introduce them to the lactation community in Europe, just as we had done when we started here in the US.

We also began to realize that it's moms talking with other moms, one friend to another, that has most helped (and continues to help) us in our efforts. As moms have shared, other bloggers and those who publish books to help pumpers have learned about our Super Shields and Hands-Free Strap as invaluable tools.

This past week, a mom who lives in Greece ordered from our website. It was very exciting for us and for me personally. As President of Pumpin' Pal International, it's truly my goal to educate and help moms worldwide. Presently, our products are helping moms in Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Australia, Indonesia, UK, The Netherlands, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, France, Canada, and Germany.

I am simply a mom. Yes, a working mom, but never-the-less a mom. A mom who enjoys and appreciates other moms and women in my life. I value their input and feedback, and enjoy mutual relationships based on trust and respect. So, that's what I bring to Pumpin' Pal -- myself as a mom, woman, and friend. Not everything that works for me will work for others, just as some things that work for my friends don't work for me or simply don't fit with my lifestyle and choices.

And with that I'll close by saying thank you to all the moms and lactation consultants who have shared our products with their friends, fellow pumpers, colleagues, and moms. And welcome to our newest friend in Greece!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Nursing / Pumping Moms: Remember to Eat!

Being a mom is all-consuming, especially when you are breastfeeding and/or pumping. It's easy to lose sight of the fact that it's important to take good care of yourself -- with the same loving care as you are taking with your little one. I remember just wanting to sleep. Really SLEEP. Uninterrupted. And for more than a couple hours at a time. With my second baby, I felt even more desperate. Just when I'd get my little one fed and sleeping, my toddler wanted to play.

So, what does it have to do with eating? It's often hard to prioritize eating when there are so many other things to do in between nursing and pumping. But in the long run, taking the time to consume some healthy calories will pay off. A breastfeeding/pumping mom needs an additional 300-500 calories every day in order to continue to produce milk (you probably already know that). And I don't know about you, but I had on my extra "baby weight" and was eager to fit in my pre-baby clothes (as opposed to staying in my husband's jeans which were the only pants I could fit into for a long time!) But now's not the time to drastically cut calories. As a matter of fact, many moms who struggle with their milk supply aren't aware that they need to be eating healthy and eating an appropriate amount of food in order for their bodies to produce breast milk (yes, when I learned that I remember wondering how malnourished moms in undeveloped countries could maintain their milk supply . . . still don't know the answer but I do know that healthy eating can play a significant role).

To make it easier, try packing nutritious snacks in small snack bags all at once on Sunday night and place on a specific shelf in the cupboard or refrigerator, before the week begins. Here are some ideas:
· Plain mixed nuts
· Raisins with peanuts
· Plain almonds with dried cranberries
· Peanut butter crackers
· Sliced apples with a dash of cinnamon
· Carrot and celery sticks with a small side of ranch
· Plain yogurt and a bit of granola
· Hard-boiled eggs
· Bananas
· Triscuits and a cheese stick
· Cottage cheese with fruit

Even if you have to eat on the run, healthy foods will help you be at your best -- and that's a win for both you and your baby!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Plugged Ducts / Mastitis

Ouch! Your breast is tender, red and very sore. What's going on? Or even worse, you're suddenly overcome with an extremely quick onset of shaking, shivering and a fever! You may have a plugged duct (if it's just red and sore) or mastitis. I experienced both during the times I breastfed my boys.

As you may pick up as you read my "story" on our website (, I tend to be an "alternative medicine before western medicine"-type mom (we had home births with both boys). When I experienced mastitis, I didn't want to go my doctor right away. I was concerned he would tell me I had to stop breastfeeding (not knowing his beliefs/recommendations for treating plugged ducts and mastitis and having heard other women's experiences of their doctors telling them to stop breastfeeding immediately, etc.) However, with that said, I don't hesitate in the least to seek medical treatment when necessary and have immense gratitude for modern medicine and medical procedures.

Anyway, I didn't know what was happening the first time my breast became red and very tender in a certain area. I called a breastfeeding friend who told me I had a plugged duct. She told me that I needed to get it unplugged immediately. Her recommendation: soak my breast in a bowl of warm water for about five minutes and then gently massage it from the area closest to my chest outward toward the nipple, trying to gently "push" the milk out of the duct. Also, she told me to check my nipple and see if I could see a little hard "plug" which I might be able to remove. I used a glass bowl and noticed the breast milk suddenly rush out of my breast as I gently "pushed" toward the nipple and the duct unplugged (this didn't happen right away but took several minutes of massaging and sometimes several bouts of soaking my breast).

I also called my midwife (she'd had six children and had delivered thousands of babies and I trusted her immensely). In addition to soaking/massaging, she recommended placing a moist washcloth over my breast and then putting a heating pad on top to add moist heat. She also told me to continue breastfeeding (very important!), placing my baby's chin toward the area of the plugged duct.

Sometimes when I'd experience plugged ducts in different areas, it meant leaning over my baby on the bed -- being careful not to cover his nose with my body or breast -- so his chin could face the plugged duct. Yep, it was a bit awkward at times, but thankfully, the combination of soaking my breast, massaging it while it was in the warm water to push the milk out of the duct, removing the visible plug in the nipple, moist compresses, and breastfeeding my baby with his chin facing the tender area helped me unplug the ducts each time, including when I had mastitis.

Speaking of mastitis: Thank goodness for my sister who'd experienced a bout of mastitis with her baby. She had told me that if all of the sudden I got the chills and felt like I had flu-like symptoms, I might have mastitis. Well, it happened. And when it came on, it came on IMMEDIATELY! I knew I needed to get the duct unplugged and went into my routine. Once I got the duct unplugged, the symptoms subsided.

After having my second baby I got mastitis twice in one week. The second time it happened, my husband was standing there when I told him I thought was getting mastitis. He told me to get in my jammies. Within seconds (literally!), I couldn't undo my bra because I was shaking so badly. Again, calling my midwife in a bit of panic, she reassured me that I didn't have to rush to the doctor right away and again suggested the same things. But, she also "grounded me" -- she told me I had to go to bed and rest, saying that if I'd experienced two bouts of mastitis in one week, my body was telling me to slow down and rest. I'd had an easy birth with my second baby and felt wonderful. With a toddler at home, it was hard to rest, especially since I felt great. I started crying, unsure of how I was going to stay in bed and take care of my toddler at the same time. Somehow it worked out (thanks to my husband, I might add). And I didn't experience another bout of mastitis after that.

So what about exclusive pumpers? Some moms have found relief for chronic plugged ducts and mastitis by using our angled flanges (Super Shields They are certainly worth trying if you're experiencing chronic plugged ducts. When using them, try turning them from a direct up and down position (12 o'clock/6 o'clock) to an off-center position (11 o'clock/5 o'clock, 10 o'clock/4 o'clock), etc. to mimic placing your baby's chin toward the plugged duct.

Before I close, here's a link from addressing plugged ducts and mastitis that may be helpful. Kelly Bonyata is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC): "kellymom" has a lot of helpful information on her website.

Until next time . . . . happy pumping!