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Good Grief, How Anal Can We Get?

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Now I fully admit, there was a point in time where I thought it was really neat to use my nursing bracelet to keep track of how many times Emmitt ate a day. Mostly because I remained fascinated at the fact that he would sometimes nosh away 15 times in 24 hours. It sort of served as confirmation that I wasn't nuts when I thought that all I was doing was nursing him.

But to take the time to enter all feeding and pumping sessions into a trackable spreadsheet?

Umm...yeah...like that's gonna happen.

Apparently for some moms it must though...Otherwise there would be no market for Baby Manager by BabbleSoft. Apparently, the company feels that there's an untapped market in parents with extreme breastfeeding OCD issues, so they've made available some snazzy (I use the word loosely) new software that will allow these Ezzo-wannabes the absolute, total scheduling control that they long for.

Basically, the software allows you to enter all the minute details of your breastfeeding or pumping life. (Or bottle-feeding if you go that route.) An online database allows you to enter the date, time, length, side and position used for each breastfeeding encounter. Baby Manager then compiles all of the data to provide you with an overall glimpse of your day (just how many hours DID you spend breastfeeding yesterday?), your milk output, and so on.

Since Baby Manager also tracks doses of medicine, the software claims to be able to help you figure out your baby's patterns so that you can better meet their needs. Because really, as we all know, no human being should be trusted to parent on instinct. We need computers and algorithms to tell us how to care for our children.

In fact, the Baby Manager press release reads like something out of a SNL commercial...

"Baby Manager is a software application, with Web and mobile options, designed to help parents figure out their baby's patterns and cues to ensure his health and happiness. No more wondering: "When did baby last eat?" "When did mom last pump or breastfeed?" or "When did baby have his last dose of medicine?" Caregivers can quickly look up the last time baby ate, took medicine, or had her diaper changed to determine whether she might be hungry, tired, need another dose of medicine, or just wants to be held."

Can't you just see Will Farrell holding up an infant by the arm pits with a quizzical look on his face? Suddenly a light bulb goes off over his head and Will gives a big grin to the camera as he pulls out his Blackberry and checks to see that baby was last fed...1.75 hours ago. With a big nod, Will realizes that no child could possibly be hungry just 1.75 after nursing, so he MUST need a diaper change.

Cue announcer: But WAIT! There's MORE!

"What's more, for busy breastfeeding moms, keeping track of pumping and medicine intake helps with the management of stored breast milk. Also, when asked, "What did you do all day?" breastfeeding moms can proudly and confidently show a report online, on a mobile device, or on paper the time they spent feeding their baby which can range from 3 to 6 hours per day (i.e., 20 to 40 hours per week!) depending on the baby and the mom. The application summarizes the data in easy-to-read graphs and reports that can be printed out to show friends, family members, or health care professionals."

I don't know about you, but the last time a family member had the gall to ask me "what did you do all day" they got a talking to that made it clear they were never, ever EVER to ask that question again. At least not until our children were old enough to have children of their own.

Besides, when was the last time your friends and family members sat down with you so that you could "proudly and confidently" show them just how much time you spent feeding your baby in the last few days?

Am I the only one that wonders if this is a gag?

Now as you know, I take my job here at the Lactivist very seriously. That means that I must be on the cutting edge of all baby related technology. (Who knew there was baby-related technology?) So with my loyal readers in mind, I made a beeline for the Baby Manager site and got myself signed up with a test account so that I could "proudly and confidently" show Greg just how much time I spent feeding our child today. (While hoping that he doesn't ask just how much time I wasted while playing with this software...)

Guess what? I spent more time filling in my entries for the day than I do in an average nursing session. Nonetheless, because you, dear readers, are my online "friends and family" I would like to "proudly and confidently" share with you my breastfeeding performance from yesterday.



So enlighten me...am I being a cynic or is this really over-the-top?

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  1. Blogger The Curries | 5:53 PM |  

    I could see this being helpful to mothers of multiples. But personally, I had enough trouble filling out the eat/pee/poop chart they sent us home from the hospital with.

    ~Sheridan

  2. Blogger MC Milker | 7:15 PM |  

    Well...I do see the point when nursing multiples..but, please. I nursed my DS for 3-1/2 years - I would not have had time to do anything else had I charted my feedings. Besides, who cares unless there is a weight issue.

  3. Blogger Kind of Crunchy Mama | 5:05 AM |  

    Bizarro

  4. Blogger The Anonymous Mama | 5:06 AM |  

    Alright, I admit it - I wrote down breastfeeding, pee and poop info for three month. But I'm allowed because I'm a wee bit on the OCD side of things! But geez, a computer program? I can't imagine running over to my computer every time. It was easier with a piece of paper. What the heck do you do when you're out of town? Take your laptop? I say we turn this matter over to Will Farrell.

  5. Anonymous Mama Grizzly | 5:21 AM |  

    PLEASE tell me that this is a joke website! WOW! It's just a LITTLE over the top. I'm a Project Manager in my out of home job but I have NO desire to keep track of information to THIS level.... I'll be blogging on this too.... good grief!

  6. Anonymous Jenn | 5:46 AM |  

    Yeah, it would have helped in the beginning with my twins. I tried a free trial of a similar program for awhile. It was nice because I could leave it open on my computer at night and my husband could check when they last ate without telling me he thought they were hungry five minutes after I fell asleep after just nursing them.

  7. Anonymous Mary Jo | 6:25 AM |  

    I don't see how anyone other than a mother of multiples or someone who's child is cared for by a dozen different people could ever find this to be more helpful than harmful! Yikes. I had to keep a food diary for my 2 year old's doctor for 3 days and I about went crazy . . . and he sleeps all night! I could not imagine keeping track of all of this stuff on less than a full night's sleep, especially in those early weeks, when you really are nursing all the time!

    Although . . . the medicine thing could be good. I was at a friend's last night and her kids have been running fevers. Well, since she has 6 kids, keeping track of how high their fever was, when, and how much medicine she gave them is pretty tough. She had a chart . . . Name, time, temp, medicine! I suppose if she were a Blackberry type she could use that kind of software, but . . . yup, it's still crazy! It'll be interesting to see if they find a market.

  8. Blogger Erin | 6:57 AM |  

    This seems like another ploy to exploit the fears and insecurities of parents, especially new ones, and extort more money out of them. Ridiculous.

  9. Blogger Stacie | 6:58 AM |  

    I have multiples, and the last thing I have time for is something like this. If they cry or fuss (or grab my pant leg, or crawl over and look at me, or..), I put them on the boob. If that doesn't work, I try somethiing else.

    I vote for "that software is totally over the top".

  10. Blogger Hanmee | 6:59 AM |  

    I think if you have a successful, normal nursing relationship with your child, it may be a bit over the top.

    As someone mentioned, I could see this being useful for someone with multiples (though I would think it would be easier having a pre-made paper chart that you could easily access around the house rather than having to go your computer and log it all in unless your computer is readily accessible and on).

    I could see it being useful if a person is having supply issues and/or is tracking pumping. I didn't have a great supply and ended up exclusively pumping both times. This time my supply is better (i'm about a bottle short of full supply). In the case of EPing, I could see it being handy if you want to find out what your usual amount is and if you want to see how making a particular change might dent your supply over time.

    But I couldn't see doing this every single day the whole time.

    I know you're "supposed" to track feeding and times and diapers, particularly in the beginning, but I never did. I had a general idea of how many diapers my kids put out and as long as they were happy, that was fine with me. I would keep an approximate count of feedings just to have a general number to give the pediatrician. I was shocked to see when my sister-in-law had a binder with paper charts all filled in on this stuff.

  11. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:13 AM |  

    This does seem silly - but remember parents can have all kinds of challenging issues with newborns. I have several friends who have had babies with cleft palate, heart defects, CF etc. They REALLY had to track details very carefully, not just feeding but also medicines, treatments, etc. For them, maybe this would really be worth it. Sounds crazy for those of us blessed to have healthy babies - BUT the early months are not so easy for all moms. Maybe this should be marketed in the NICU, or to parents of special needs babies.

  12. Blogger MamaBean | 8:25 AM |  

    Um hello? It's not "OCD" it's "CDO" which is alphabetical, as it should be.

    Yeah, totally ridiculous. Who the hell has time for that? Let's see, baby is napping so I could a) take a shower b) eat something c) attempt to do my taxes or d) fill out my breastfeeding chart. Yeah right.

    I am however extremely jealous that you pump 11 oz in 30 minutes AND breastfeed 8 bazillion times a day. Good god woman. I'm lucky to get 10 oz in TWO half hour pumping sessions (mid morning and mid afternoon) and only when I'm at work so there is no breastfeeding to mess with my supply.

    Well, I guess as long as I have enough it doesn't matter but still - the time I could save! Maybe I should find some software for that problem . . .

  13. Anonymous amygeekgrl | 8:37 AM |  

    i admit to carefully tracking when ava ate, which side, how long, and what her diapers were like for the first 2 weeks. after that, she was healthy and growing well and i decided i could throw my anal retentiveness out the window. i didn't track any of these things at all when julian was born. funny how much more relaxed you are w/ baby #2.

    anyway, i can see some instances (like w/ multiples) that this might be useful, but for the majority of parents, i think it's just another ploy.

    and if anyone asked me "what did you do all day?" they'd get popped in the nose. :oP

  14. Anonymous Ariana | 9:37 AM |  

    Like others have said I see how it could be useful if someone is having a problem. I can see how it'd be a real real help to an LC who is helping a nursing pair with supply or weight gain issues.

    When my first son was born he lost about 15% of his weight and wasn't nursing well and I had to keep a sheet similar to this (though just on paper). The thing is when you're going through all that in the beginning days filling out a spreadsheet is just another thing to do. You could use that time in the day to nurse or pump or eat or drink or shower or SLEEP.

    I think in some ways this spreadsheet is just another way that our society makes it seem like breastfeeding is difficult and possibly even dangerous if done incorrectly.

  15. Blogger Jennifer | 10:26 AM |  

    Ok, I can see the need to track things for multiples...that makes sense...but why on a system where you have to go online and fill out forms instead of on a sheet of paper on your fridge where you fill in check boxes?

    It just seems like so much extra work for the sake of "oh, look organized I am on the computer."

    It's like last week when my slightly OCD (sorry, CDO, lol) husband spent about two hours making a neat list on his computer of what he has to do around the house.

    In the two hours he spent making the list, he could have done about five of the things ON the list.

    So yeah, despite seeing that some moms and dads might be helped by tracking some things, I just can't see this program as being the end-all solution to proper parenting.

  16. Anonymous Rosomaqa | 12:34 PM |  

    Well, I think would have used it - at least for the first 2-3 months or so.
    We had issues with low weight gain and low frequency of feedings (Z. just slept too much), and I kept what we called a "Baby Log" - yes, on the computer. Much easier and more convenient than writing it down on paper, especially since I usually breastfed and pumped sitting in front of the computer (if not lyng down). Paper always got creased, lost, the writing was illegible, etc.
    This software would have made things much easier for me - it would be great to have ready-made neat columns; the calculator would have come in very handy,for instance when I calculated the average daily frequency of feedings or the amount of milk pumped and/or supplemented.
    One thing is fail to see the use of is the "position" column.

    P.S. Hi, Jennifer! I am hereby de-lurking. I've been reading your blog for months and I love it.

  17. Blogger The Fluffy Ewe | 12:51 PM |  

    Okay, I will admit it. I kept a Excel spreadsheet for the first two month's of DS2's life because he didn't gain as quickly as his brother so I got a little worried. It started out on paper and then evolved to a spreadsheet.

    Now selling software to do what an excel spreadsheet can do? That's a lil absurd. I think the only people who would benefit from it is people who's baby isn't growing well and the ped/LC wants feedings tracked. Again excel is perfectly capable of doing that.

  18. Blogger Jennifer | 12:54 PM |  

    Rosomaqa, thanks for delurking! Welcome to the Lactivst. :)

    I'm finding the responses to be really interesting. Quite honestly, I'm surprised at how many moms WOULD use a program like this, even among my readers.

    Guess that goes to show why I'm not working at a venture capital firm, eh? I would have laughed and laughed when someone came in the door to present this business model and based on the responses, I bet they manage to make a go of it.

    What do I know? ;)

    I'm kind of a fly by the seat of your pants type though...clearly not someone who falls into their target market.

    Heck, despite spending more than a year exclusively pumping and bottle feeding, I can't tell you how many bottles or how many ounces Nora took at any age of her life. She ate when she was hungry and she ate as much as she was hungry for. That's all I remember.

    Though in my prime pumping days, I do know that I was pumping about 40-45 ounces a day over four sessions. I remember this because my milk had 25 calories an ounce and I did the math to find out that I was burning 1000+ calories a day just in breast milk production.

    No wonder I had no problem losing weight then... ;)

  19. Blogger WendyLou | 7:35 PM |  

    You mean this site is real?

    Not a joke?

    Why in the hell would I want to keep track of all that????

    I know at approximately what times I should pump (11 and 3:30). I would have to get up and keep track of which breast my all night nurser is on. Why Why Why!

    That was one of the best things about getting DD home from the NICU. We kept very close track, but my little notebook where I kept track of pumping worked just fine. Pen and Paper. (I had to keep track when I was trying to get 8 pumps in a day.)

    And if you are pumping on only one breast and you are working full time, you are wasting a LOT of time... Double electric pump is the Way to go there.

    That is one WAY out there program. Trying to give women who know breast is best a scientific egde so they can track too.

  20. Blogger Elizabeth F. | 9:10 PM |  

    That's hilarious! But, I wish I could have done it just one day back when my babies were younger, so that I could say "I nursed for 4 hours today." Although I would never have time to fill that chart out, but I would love to know how many hours total that I have nursed! That would be cool.

  21. Anonymous Meggan | 2:11 PM |  

    My son is 5 months old and I do keep a daily journal. I have a small notebook where I write down what time he eats, which side, and how long. Then I scribble his nap times along the side of the sheet, and on the back, I write down a little note about what we did that day. When we wake up in the morning, I jot down how many times he nursed (if he did) over night.

    My mom and my husband keep the notes going when I'm at work. And I use the same notebook to keep track of how much I pump.

    What can I say? It's very simple and it makes me happy.

    But even I don't think I would use a computer program. It sounds stressful.

    Love your blog!

  22. Anonymous Nev | 3:08 PM |  

    I have to admit, I'm much happier since I *stopped* counting how many times a day my five-month-old eats. (Backstory: he was hospitalized a day after we were discharged for dehydration, where I pumped and tracked for four additional days with no sleep.)

    Once I stopped looking at the clock at night and counting, I've felt much more rested. Baby in bed next to me, and he can nurse whenever he wants. I feed him when he's hungry, as long as he likes. As long as he's healthy, that's fine with me. :)

  23. Blogger Darlene | 9:00 PM |  

    Oh for the simple life! Just when ya thought moms had enough to obsess about (do I have enuf milk? is baby growing fast enuf? did my neighbor's kid turn over when she was 3 hours younger than mine did?) along comes software to help her obsess a little more. An enterprising venture for sure....but practical? Yeah....about as practical as logging every morsel that jumps into your mouth when you're trying to lose weight with Body for Life. All that time logging my food intake just made me spend that much more time thinking about food! Now moms get to record every drop she produces and worry if the tanks' runnin' low. Geesh!

  24. Blogger Renata | 9:52 AM |  

    It would help in breastfeeding clinical trials, I suppose, but then it would rule out mamas like me who would ultimately end up forgetting to put in the info!

  25. Anonymous Aruni Gunasegaram | 11:05 AM |  

    I’m the founder of Babble Soft and just happened upon this cool blog while seeing if anyone picked up on our press release about Baby Manager. I loved reading what everybody had to say about our new application. At first I felt a little bit misunderstood but saw that others out there kind of understood what our goal was.

    When I had my son 4 ½ years ago, breastfeeding was challenging. I had no role models…my mom breastfed me for I think a few weeks and did not even attempt to breastfeed my younger sister due to our family situation. Although she was not discouraging, she was not very encouraging either. I developed a breast infection and would get subtle hints that I should discontinue nursing. I was adamant that I was going to make it through to 6 to 8 weeks, but in the meantime I had to keep track of positions and then remember to nurse on the other side sometimes and then on the same side. I was keeping notes on sheets and sheets of paper and if we went somewhere carrying the papers around would drive me crazy. Needless to say, I made it through and nursed him quite a long time afterwards!

    By the time my daughter was born in 2005 we had come up with a working application on a PDA. I kept it near me and just touched the screen to enter information, and then I could quickly look up when I last fed and on what side. Breastfeeding went so much smoother. My daughter was so efficient that often, I could nurse her on one side, pump the other and still be able to use my finger to touch the PDA to start the timer for each side. I had so much milk that I was able to donate to the Mother's Milk Bank here in Austin, TX…which was a great feeling! Then I would put her down and finish up the entry and sync to my PC later. Both our kids slept in a co-sleeper next to our bed for the first 6 to 8 months of their lives.

    We had several people who had Mac’s email us to see if they could use our software and unfortunately it was only PC based and that’s why we made it a web application so anyone with an Internet connection can use it. Also, we made it compatible with smartphones like the Palm Treo 700w and the Moto Q.

    I think this blog is really neat. I wish I had known about it when I was breastfeeding my kids. I actually don’t have a lot of experience with blogging so I hope this post makes sense and doesn’t sound too self serving. :-)

  26. Blogger Jennifer | 11:44 AM |  

    Aruni,

    Not self-serving at all! I welcome you to the Lactivist and thank you for coming and sharing your personal input.

    Hope you didn't take too much offense at my post, it was written in good humor. ;)

    While I could still never imagine using a program like that myself, my readers have really given some great reasons why it's still a useful programs for some moms. I guess it's sort of like all the moms that thought I was nuts when I exclusively pumped with my first, whereas I found it to be a life saver to our nursing relationship...sometimes what sounds crazy to one person works wonders for another.

    That's the great thing about this blog. If I go on a rant without thinking something through from all angles, my readers aren't afraid to call me on it. That said, it was nice to see that some readers came at it from the same perspective I did...I still keep picture Will Farrell and SNL. ;)

    Anyway, thanks for taking the time to come and share your input with us and kudos on being a milk donor. As a milk donor and fundraiser for the Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio, I know how strong the need is and I like to try and make sure other donors know how much they're appreciated.

  27. Blogger John & Michelle | 3:28 PM |  

    My wife and I started using this program before it was migrated into a web-based application. While the focus of the new application is that you can use it online, what makes it the most useful is the it runs on the PocketPC. Personally, we found it much easier to just click a few buttons on the pocket pc to get the data entered instead of writing it down on a piece of paper that kept disappearing. So for us the software was both easier to use and had the great advantage of having all of the data at our fingertips when we took a trip to the pediatrician's office. I realize some parents may not have ever even used a handheld, so it would be a bigger transition for them than it was for us. Anyway, for someone who is used to frequent computer or handheld use, I can't think of an easier way to keep track of things.

    I also realize that for my wife and I we split responsibilities and tried not to bother each other with the "when did you last..." questions, and this was a huge help for us.

  28. Anonymous Aruni Gunasegaram | 7:20 AM |  

    Thanks for posting my comment! Yes, moms and babies are all different. My sister also pumped exclusively with her first born.

    I also try to spread the word about milk banking. We link to the Austin site from inside our app. For those who worry they may not be able to give enough milk...please don't! The milk banks (and the sick and premature infants) appreciate everything you can give.

    It really is so easy and takes such little time to get approved. Before I knew it I was a high volume donor (just over 500 oz)...the milk bank gave me a nice certificate that I now have in my daughter's baby book that says 'thanks for sharing your milk.' :-) I think she will feel very good about the fact 'her' milk helped others.

    Regarding Will Farrell (I think he's hilarious)...since we live in Austin (and are Longhorns - UT Austin grads) the image that usually pops in my mind is when he and Matthew McConaughey were going back/forth about who would win the National Championship (between USC and UT in 2006) at the Rose Bowl. Matthew was saying something and Will kept saying "I can't hear you. I have 2 Heisman trophies blocking my ears." Of course UT won that year. :-) Although I'm not a huge football watcher...when your town's college team is playing in the championship bowl game you can't avoid seeing it.

  29. Blogger Jennifer | 7:26 AM |  

    LOL, Aruni, I live near Columbus, Ohio and graduated from Ohio State.

    I know exactly what you mean about being sucked into National Championship games. ;)

  30. Anonymous Trina | 10:18 PM |  

    I will admit to being a very anal person. I started with the feeding/diaper log at the hospital (and thought it wasn't structured very well, lots of wasted space!) and continued on with it at home for about 2 weeks. And one night when DD was probably 2-3 weeks old, when I was up yet AGAIN with her when everyone else was asleep, I found a software program like this online...but I thought it would be too much of a pain for me to do it on the computer since it's not always on/accessible for me. So then I switched over to using my dayplanner to write down the time & side I last nursed on. Now, 4 months in, I still record the feedings in my dayplanner! I realize that I'm anal, but it honestly does help me to remember WHEN and on which side I last fed her from. When I get busy, or when we're away from home and our normal routine, or when she is really fussy, I honestly lose all sense of time. And unless one breast is hard as a rock, I usually don't remember which side needs to be nursed from next! So, it works for me, but then again I know I'm more anal than most...

  31. Anonymous Anonymous | 7:21 AM |  

    I'm disappointed by the negative tone of this blog and many of the responses. What, I support breastfeeding moms as long as they do everything exactly as I would?

    I'm not saying I would buy this software. I will say, however, that I spent over an hour the other day designing my own printable chart to keep track of my low supply. I am trying, after weeks of struggle and conflicting advice, to increase my milk supply with the goal of eliminating formula. It's great that you're able to pump such huge quantities. This morning, I pumped 1.25 oz in 20 minutes. That is the total from both breasts using the Medela Symphony. The most I have ever pumped at a sitting is 6 oz. My 5-week baby is currently getting about 1/4 of her food from my breast and the rest from formula--and it kills me. I know it upsets her stomach, it stinks, and I feel like a failure. Charting my output and the number of times my daughter has breastmilk vs. formula is EXTREMELY helpful for me, especially since my new, sleepless schedule only exacerbates my natural absent-mindedness...

    It's great that you don't need to try it, but don't knock those of us who might.

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