Monday, April 27, 2015

Nursing Bra Highlight - Allure Underwire by Bravado

The Allure Underwire Nursing Bra by Bravado is both pretty and highly functional!  It includes the proprietary Supple-Fit Design to blend style with breast health.  This bra has smooth cups made of molded spacer fabric, which is breathable and stretchy, and will expand and contract with your changing shape and size.  The underwire is inside a unique channel that supports your breasts while maintaining optimal breast health (specifically made not to constrict or pinch breast tissue).

This bra is one of our most 'normal-looking' nursing bras.  The cups are fairly low-cut with a plunge so it's great for wearing with v-neck tops or dresses, but it's also comfortable enough to wear all the time. 

As long as the bra is fitted properly, underwire nursing bras are safe for most new moms to wear during the day.  Although some moms love wearing Allure while pregnant and during the early stages of nursing, Bravado recommends this bra for 6-8 weeks after giving birth when your breastfeeding routine is well-established and fluctuations in your weight are less frequent. 

The Allure is available in Chai (Nude), Black, and Ivory with band sizes from 32-38, and cup sizes from B/C to F/G.  We do sell the Bravado Allure on our website, but as with all of our nursing bras, we highly recommend that you come into the store to get sized and fitted.  Your bra size can change dramatically throughout your pregnancy and right after having your baby, so it's always best to try on a few different styles to see what is most comfortable and supportive for you!

We carry the full size range of nursing bras from 32-44 band sizes and B-K cup sizes, including breastfeeding bras from Medela, Bravado, Bella Materna, Milkalicious, and more!  Come on in anytime for a nursing bra sizing and fitting at our boutique!

Visit us at:
16101 Ventura Blvd. Suite 230
Encino, CA. 91436
p. (818) 380-3111 w.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Should I Rent or Buy a Breastpump?

Many new moms who are planning on breastfeeding will also be pumping milk at least occasionally, whether they are going back to work soon or just want to let Dad or someone else do some of the feeding.

So the question comes up. Is it better to buy a breastpump or to rent a hospital-grade pump? The answer depends on your personal situation.

There are some cases, such as having a premature baby, where you would definitely want the stronger, more efficient hospital-grade rental pump. Rental pumps are also nice if you want to spread the cost out as opposed to paying a lot up front. If you're not sure how long you'll be pumping or you know that you'll only be pumping for a month or two, rental pumps can be less expensive in the short-term.

However, if you're going back to work and you're planning on transporting your pump back & forth, the personal-grade pumps are a lot smaller and easier to carry around than the hospital-grade rental pumps. Also if you're planning on using your pump for a while or with another child, the Medela Pump-In-Style breastpumps are less expensive over the long run.

Whether you decide to rent or buy, if you're going to be pumping more than a few times per week, you definitely want to get a double electric pump! Getting a single electric pump or a manual (hand-powered) pump is only for short-term, emergency/holiday situations. Trying to use a manual pump all the time will only tire you out and make you dislike pumping, and using a single electric pump (meaning that you can only pump one side at a time) means that pumping will take twice as long!

Feel free to call us at 818-380-3111 if you need help deciding whether to rent or buy a Medela pump!
Already have your pump, but can't figure out how all the parts fit together? Check out our YouTube video showing how the pump parts are assembled.

At A Mother's Haven in Encino, we rent out hospital-grade Medela pumps. Rental pumps are only $75 per month!

Visit us at:
16101 Ventura Blvd. Suite 230
Encino, CA. 91436
p. (818) 380-3111 w.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Product Highlight - Aden + Anais Swaddling Blankets

If you don't have several Aden + Anais swaddling blankets, you're missing out! Even if your baby doesn't like to be swaddled, these blankets are so great for so many different occasions!

Check out this video by Aden+Anais, which demonstrates how to swaddle your baby - in both the basic swaddle and the aussie swaddle.

Besides swaddling, we see so many moms using these blankets as covers over their car seats to protect baby from the sun (or prying eyes), as ground blankets for their baby to lie on in our classrooms, as nursing covers to hide baby & boobs, as a lovie for their baby to snuggle with, and so many more ways! How have you used your Aden+Anais blanket?

Visit us at:
16101 Ventura Blvd. Suite 230
Encino, CA. 91436
p. (818) 380-3111 w.

Monday, April 20, 2015

How do I know when my baby is ready for solid foods?

Different babies are ready at different ages. It's more about your baby's developmental stage then a particular age. Your baby's digestive system as well as his tongue & mouth have to be developed enough to handle solid foods. Also your baby needs to be able to tell you when he's done or doesn't like a particular food. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of your baby's life, but some doctors advise to start a little bit sooner.

Of course, talk with your pediatrician, but when your baby is between 4-8 months old, you can start to watch for these solid food readiness signs:

- Sitting up without much support and fully developed head & neck control so your baby can turn his head or body if he doesn't want anymore

- Loss of tongue extrusion and gag reflex so that he can get the food in his mouth and swallow

- Interest in the food that adults are eating (aka watching intensely or grabbing for it!)

- Consuming at least 32-40 ounces of formula most days or breastfeeding at least 8-10 times most days and still seeming hungry

- Developing finger pincer grasp and the hand-eye coordination to bring food to his mouth

No matter what age you start your baby on solid foods, remember that solid foods are a compliment to breastmilk (or formula), and are not a substitute. Your baby should still be getting most of his nutrition from nursing or bottle-feeding for the first year!

Visit us at:
16101 Ventura Blvd. Suite 230
Encino, CA. 91436
p. (818) 380-3111 w.

Friday, April 17, 2015

How Long Can I Store Breastmilk?

So you've pumped some milk and you're not going to immediately feed it to your baby. How long can you keep the breastmilk before you shouldn't use it anymore?

- If you're keeping it at room temperature, the milk should be good for about 4 hours. The warmer the room is, the shorter you can keep your milk out.

- If you keep it in a cooler with ice packs, the milk is good for up to 24 hours, depending on if it stays cold the whole time.

- In the refrigerator, just-pumped breastmilk is good for 5-7 days.

- In your fridge's freezer, the milk is good for 3-4 months. And in a deep freezer, your breastmilk can be good for 6-12 months!

If you don't plan to use your breastmilk soon, freeze it ASAP! When storing breastmilk in the fridge or freezer, keep it near the back where the temperature doesn't change as much when you open and close the fridge door. You want your milk to stay as cold as possible to prevent & slow any bacteria growth.

You can defrost/thaw breastmilk overnight in the fridge, or by placing it in warm water. DO NOT MICROWAVE BREASTMILK! Hot spots can form, which can burn your baby's mouth. Thawed breastmilk can be kept in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Do not refreeze milk after it's been thawed.

Breastmilk can be frozen in storage bottles or freezer bags. Be sure to date your milk, and take the oldest milk first when you're feeding your baby stored milk.

Remember these breastmilk storage guidelines are for healthy, full-term babies. If your baby is a preemie or has any health conditions, you'll want to err on the side of caution and use milk sooner rather than later.

Visit us at:
16101 Ventura Blvd. Suite 230
Encino, CA. 91436
p. (818) 380-3111 w.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Increase Your Milk Supply

We have a lot of nursing moms who call or come in wanting to know what they can do to increase their breastmilk supply for their baby.  Here are some quick general tips!
(If you want to get more personalized advice, stop by for our Breastfeeding Support Group on Tuesday mornings at 10am.  Or call us at (818) 380 - 3111 to schedule a one-on-one lactation consult for full evaluation and assistance.)

Ways to help increase your milk supply and help your baby get more milk out:

- Make sure you are bringing your baby to breast often!  The leading cause of low milk production is not breastfeeding often enough.  In the first month or so, your baby will probably feed every 2-3 hours during the day and every 3-5 hours at night (at least eight times in every 24 hour period).  Nursing your baby skin-to-skin more often will tell your body that it needs to produce more milk.  Remember that the short, frequent feedings are more effective for increasing supply than longer, infrequent feedings.

- If you can't bring your baby to breast as often as you'd like (because you're back at work, etc), make sure that you're pumping at least as often as your baby would be feeding.  Whether you use a hospital-grade rental pump or a personal-grade breast pump, make sure that you get a double electric pump so that you can pump both breasts at the same time.  Using a hands-free pumping bra makes life a lot easier!  For the times you are away from baby, pump when your baby would feed (every 2-3 hours early on).  When you are with baby, you can pump for 10-15 minutes after each feeding to further stimulate your breasts and tell your body that more milk is needed.

- If you are breastfeeding & pumping often and you still want a little extra help, you can take galactogogues (herbs or foods to stimulate your breasts to produce more milk).  Oats and barley are great grains to help, so eating oatmeal and drinking non-alcoholic barley beer are often recommended.  Nutritional yeast or brewer's yeast is full of B vitamins and can boost supply.  Green papaya and sesame seeds are used by moms in Asia.  There are also galactogogue teas, such as Mother's Milk Tea, and herbal supplements, such as Fenugreek and More Milk Plus by Motherlove.

Need more help? RSVP online for our Breastfeeding Support Group!

Visit us at:
16101 Ventura Blvd. Suite 230
Encino, CA. 91436
p. (818) 380-3111 w.

Info about Nursing Bras & Tanks

At A Mother's Haven, we have a wide selection of nursing bras and tanks ranging in size from 32B to 44H. We carry Bravado, Medela, Glamour Mom, Milkalicious, and Bella Materna.

I'm not sure what size or style to get.
No worries - our certified bra fitters are available every day to help you figure out the best bra for you! No appointment necessary - although it's a good idea to come when you have 15-30 minutes free in order to try on several different styles & sizes.

How exactly is a nursing bra different from a regular bra?
Nursing bras either have a clasp at the top of each side that you can undo to lower the cup or else the cup is designed to be able to slide to the side to allow your baby to feed. Basically, it's 'easy access' for the baby! Most nursing tanks are also made so that you can unclasp each side and lower it down, or else some tanks are made to be lifted up for the baby to feed.

How many nursing bras should I buy?
When pregnant and when your baby is first born, most women like to have at least 2 bras - one to wear and one in the wash (and maybe another clean one in the drawer). These first bras should not be underwire, and are often sleep bras or other stretchy bras to accommodate your changing breasts. About 4 weeks after your milk comes in and your breasts have settled into their lactation size, many women like to get a few 'cup' bras - these bras are more supportive, a bit nicer looking, and can be underwire if you need the support. Like any piece of clothing, if you find a style & size you love, buy it in every color!

When should I buy a nursing bra?
If you've already had your baby and you're breastfeeding, then the answer is now! Having a comfortable, supportive bra that allows your baby to feed easily can make a huge difference in your life as a new mom.

If you're pregnant and your pre-pregnancy bras still feel good, then you can wait until late in your third trimester and get a few bras right before your baby comes. However, most women find that their pre-pregnancy bras start to get too constrictive way before their baby is due - if you're going to buy some new bras, you might as well get nursing bras so you can continue to use them after your baby is born.

I've heard that wearing underwire bras is bad while breastfeeding.
You have milk ducts throughout your breasts, including underneath and into your armpits. When there's constant pressure on a duct, it could clog or possibly even become infected (mastitis). Ill-fitting bras, especially badly fit underwire bras, can sometimes cause clogged ducts. You should definitely wear non-underwire nursing bras for the first 6-8 weeks while your breasts are adjusting, and after that, definitely to bed and preferably around the house. If you feel like you need the support and form of an underwire bra when going out, be sure that you get a bra that fits correctly and that the wire doesn't extend too far up on the sides.

I have another question about nursing bras that you haven't answered yet.
Give us a call at 818-380-3111 and we'll be happy to help you figure out everything about breastfeeding and bras. Or write your question in a comment below and we'll answer it here!

Visit us at:
16101 Ventura Blvd. Suite 230
Encino, CA. 91436
p. (818) 380-3111 w.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Which Breastshield Size Do I Need?

As you may know, the Medela breastpumps come standard with the Medium-24mm Personal Fit Breastshields. But Medela also makes other sizes of breastshields (aka the funnels): Small-21mm, Large-27mm, Extra Large-30mm, and XXL-36mm. But how do you know which size you should be using?

Contrary to what you might think, it doesn't matter how big your breasts are or how big your areolas are. What matters is how big your actual nipple is (the part that sticks out). Your nipple should be able to glide in and out of the tunnel (without touching the tunnel sides) when the pump is running - it should not fill up the whole breastshield tunnel.

"To determine whether you think you might need a Large or Extra Large breastshield, look at your nipple as it is drawn into the tunnel of the shield during pumping. It should move freely and easily, and should not rub against the sides of the tunnel. If the breastshield fits tightly, your nipple will rub against the sides of the tunnel with each vacuum movement of the pump. After several pumpings, you may notice that the outside of the nipple (rather than the nipple tip) is tender or sore. You may also see a little ring of skin flecks in the tunnel of the breastshield after you pump. While a little circle of milk in the tunnel is normal, a ring of skin flecks probably indicates that the tunnel is too small, and that you would be more comfortable with a larger breastshield. When your nipple moves freely in the tunnel of the breastshield, you will also note a gentle pulling movement in the areola each time the pump cycles. If you do not see any movement in the areola with the pump vacuum, the breastshield is probably too small." -from Medela's article on Choosing a Correctly-Fitted Breastshield

If you need more help figuring out what size you need, come on into the store! We have a measuring gauge that can help to decide which breastshield to get. You also may want to have 2 or more sizes on hand - some women like to use a larger size when they are more engorged.

In addition to selling all sizes of the Medela Personal Fit Breastshields, we also sell all of the replacement parts for the Pump in Style, Freestyle and Symphony Pumps, including the Pump-In-Style tubing. If you don't want to buy a pump, we also rent out the Medela Symphony Hospital-Grade Breastpump. Rental pumps are only $75 per month!

If you need help figuring out how all of the parts go together, check out our YouTube video on assembling all the Medela pump parts.

Visit us at:
16101 Ventura Blvd. Suite 230
Encino, CA. 91436
p. (818) 380-3111 w.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions about Sign Language for Babies

We have a lot of moms who are interested in helping their babies to communicate more and maybe taking the Sign Language for Babies class, but might not be familiar with Baby Sign Language or might have heard different things about signing with babies. So we wanted to write up some answers to the questions that many moms have. Feel free to email us at with other questions that you think we should add to this list or just something that you want to know personally.

Why should I sign with my baby? Isn't sign language only used with deaf or hard-of-hearing kids? My baby's ears are just fine.

Babies and toddlers have a lot to say before they can actually say it! By using signs with your baby, you can help them to communicate their wants, needs, and interests before they can speak. The tiny muscles in the tongue & mouth are very hard for little ones to control, but the larger muscles of the arms and hands are easier to use, so most babies are able to start signing long before they can talk.

Using sign language with your baby has been shown to improve vocabulary development and possibly even raise your baby's IQ, but we think an even better reason to sign with your baby is because it reduces frustration for both you and your baby! We've all seen one-year-olds crying and pointing in the general direction of what they want while their mom frantically picks up different objects trying to soothe their child - wouldn't it be wonderful if the baby could just tell his mom what he wants? Using signs with your baby results in fewer tears for your baby (and for you!)

And the best reason of all to sign with your baby... You get to find out who your baby is from early on. You can know your baby's interests, preferences, and personality, and you can have 'conversations' with your baby. With baby sign language, your baby can tell you how much he loves dogs, or how he wants more peas and 'no more' carrots. You can 'talk' with your baby about how he sees the rain outside, and yes, rain is water falling down. By using signs, your baby will transform from an eating, sleeping, pooping machine into a little person!

Won't signing with my baby make him talk later? Why would he learn to speak if he's getting everything he wants by signing?

Actually, research has shown that babies who are signed with tend to speak earlier and tend to start saying more complex sentences (2-3 words, etc) sooner. However, as with all developmental milestones, there's huge variation as to when an individual baby will say their first words or start talking coherently. So just because you're signing with your baby doesn't mean that your baby will be spouting Shakespeare at their first birthday party! :-)

Whenever you are signing to your baby, you should also be talking to your baby - for example, saying "Do you want more cheerios?" as you're signing MORE. You will probably find yourself talking with your baby even more once you start using signs, because you'll see things on your adventures that you can sign about (like the APPLE at the grocery store or the DOG at the park). At first, your baby will be able to communicate a lot just using one sign, but soon your baby will realize that they don't know the signs for everything and that they need to speak to get everything they want.

For more thoughts on whether signing speeds up language development or delays it, check out this MSNBC article.

Do I have to learn a whole new language to sign with my baby? I'm so busy already!

No, you definitely do NOT need to learn all of ASL (American Sign Language). In fact, doing too many signs too early with your baby can actually reduce some of benefits. One of the reasons that sign language helps babies learn to communicate is because it helps babies (and parents) to focus in on the key concept of what's being said. So if you're saying "Oh, do you see the dog in the backyard?" and you're signing DOG, your baby starts to understand what a dog is and starts to associate the word "dog" with the sign DOG and with the actual dog in the backyard.

So the best way to use baby sign language is to start off with only a few signs, but to use them consistently. Some moms will start using 3-5 signs all the time, others start with 10-15 - depending on the age of the baby and how much focus they want to put on signing. And then as your baby learns the signs and becomes interested in other things, you learn new signs along with your baby. That way, your baby gets the benefits of focusing in on important words, while you get to learn as you go and don't have to take time out of your busy schedule for study sessions!

Should I use ASL (American Sign Language) signs with my baby, or should we make up our own signs?

Many families end up using mostly ASL signs along with a few signs that they or their baby made up. Just like when your baby is learning to talk, you uses mostly English words, but each family often has special words or names for unique home items or things that the baby can't quite say yet.

Overall using the standard ASL signs has several advantages...
1. Most of the videos, books, and other products out there use ASL signs, so if you buy any tools to help you and your baby learn the signs, your baby will recognize the same signs if you've been using ASL.
2. Some daycares and nannies are starting to incorporate using ASL signs with their kids. If your baby is using the standard signs, then his teacher will be able to understand what he is trying to communicate.
3. As sign language for babies becomes more popular, more babies know ASL signs. If your baby is learning these signs, he'll be able to communicate with other children. Even one-year-olds can have little "conversations" with each other when they both know the same signs.

When is a good time to start signing with my baby? And when should I take the Sign Language for Babies class?

You can start signing with your baby anytime from when they're born all the way through when you can understand everything that comes out of their mouth! The earlier you start, the earlier your baby will sign back, but the longer you're going to have to wait for your baby to sign back to you. Babies who are signed to consistently from birth often "talk back" around 6-8 months. Babies who start seeing signs regularly when they are around 1 year old will usually start signing in 6-10 weeks.

While you are certainly welcome to take the Sign Language for Babies class anytime you want, you and your baby will get the most out of the Level I class when your baby is between 7-18 months old. We normally recommend that you wait until your baby is sitting up on their own, so that their hands are free to sign and they can pay more attention to the class. If you start your baby when they are younger, they probably won't sign back to you during your first 6-week class session, but you'll be laying down a solid foundation for their later signing (and you can come back to review the Level 1 session for a reduced rate). Most babies are ready for the Level 2 class between 1-2 years old, once they are signing back and are ready for more signs!

Do I have to take the Sign Language for Babies class in order to sign with my baby?

No. Just like with anything you want to learn, there are lots of ways to go about understanding the new ideas - you can teach yourself from a book, you can watch a DVD, you can ask someone to tutor you privately, you can take a class, etc. Which one is best for you and your child all depends on your learning style.

Some reasons why you would choose to take the Sign Language for Babies class...
1. When you're first learning ASL, it's best to see the signs in motion and in 3D. The pictures in the sign language books are great reminders of how to do a sign once you know it, but usually you can't quite tell what's going on if you've never seen the sign before. Coming to class allows you to both see the signs in person, as well as ask questions about the signs and have the teacher help you to make the signs.
2. If you've been thinking about doing sign language, but you never quite seem to get going with it, the class is great way to jump start your signing! The teacher offers a lot of suggestions on how to incorporate signing into your daily life, and having the other moms & babies learning with you is a great support system.
3. If you've been signing with your baby already, but they're not really signing back yet, bringing your baby to class could help them to start 'talking' to you! Seeing the other moms and babies signing is a wonderful way to increase the signing communication that your baby experiences, and the teacher demonstrates songs and activities that you can do at home to show your baby how signing can be used in lots of different, fun ways.

Where can I find out more information about signing with my baby?

You can also find more information online at Or as with any question, always feel free to call the store at 818-380-3111 or email us at

Check out our class calendar or give us a call at (818) 380-3111 to see when our next session of Sign Language for Babies class is starting!

Visit us at:
16101 Ventura Blvd. Suite 230
Encino, CA. 91436
p. (818) 380-3111 w.