Uncommon breastfeeding advice – 50 Tips

I’m a breastfeeding mom at 42 years old.  I was also a breastfeeding mom at 21 years old. Here is my input from things I didn’t easily find anywhere else online or in print.  Of course, this is based on my perspective.  Yours may differ. This will be updated periodically until our breastfeeding journey is complete. Comments are welcome–I’d like to know what other mothers have learned along the way or what differs from my POV.  If you are anti-breastfeeding, please explain why here:  http://www.emilylikestomakestuff.com/advantages-of-formula-feeding-of-infants/

breastfeeding 5 months
5 months old and enjoying a quick lunch in the truck. He is communicating clearly with those big brown eyes.

1.) If it hurts, you are doing it wrong.  Or the baby is doing it wrong.  Or both. I didn’t know this the first time and suffered horribly because of it.  I DID know this the 2nd time around and didn’t have pain at all from Baby’s feedings.
Read this:  http://www.drghaheri.com/blog/2014/2/9/the-myths-about-painful-breastfeeding

2.)  Every baby is different. Every pregnancy is different. Age difference is different. The age/development of the baby makes it different.  Your breastfeeding experience with a newborn is very different than the experience with a 2 month old is very different than the experience with a 6 month old is very different…

3.)  (IMHO) Whoever decided that you must pump AFTER feeding the baby was crazy. It never worked for me with my first baby or with my last baby. If I pump first and then feed the baby, he’ll eat until he is satisfied and I don’t feel any pressure/stress.  If I feed the baby first, then I MIGHT get a half of an ounce combined from both breasts for the machine.  If I feed the machine before the baby, I usually pump out 3-5 ounces and then feed the baby leisurely until he is finished. Your body is designed to feed a BABY, not a machine.  You will never produce as much for that plastic machine as for your beloved.

4.)  The timer on my cell phone (downloaded app) and a small collection of videos of Baby doing a variety of lovable things makes the pumping time at work much more productive.

5.)  If you work in a hospital and have to answer the phone while pumping, you can always lie and say that you are in a patient’s room with a noisy ventilator.  It usually makes the caller talk fast or call back later.

6.)  Sleepy newborn. My youngest baby was like this. It was scary. I learned to squeeze the breast to cause a flow to happen to waken the baby.  If the milk is entering his mouth, Baby will consume it. If he is too tired to suck, he might just give up in favor of yet another nap. As a newborn, he could sleep 10 hours at a stretch and was sometimes frighteningly impossible to rouse.

6. A.)  Watch these videos:

BreastfeedingBabies: Breast Compressions

How to Breastfeed : Keeping Sleepy Babies Awake for Breastfeeding

6. B.) If your baby is too sleepy to breastfeed, then pump and let Baby eat from a bottle. It is better for the baby to eat fast while awake than to miss his feedings all together and be too weak.  Expect some issues with the baby preferring the fast and easy bottle to natural breastfeeding.  You can also let Baby eat a little from the bottle to reduce the crazy-hungries and then offer the breast.  Know that every bottle offered, no matter what the contents are, will reduce your odds of success in breastfeeding during the crucial first few weeks. Don’t be lazy and overuse this–it will cost you much more energy in time for baby to latch well and especially will use a lot more energy if the habit contributes to the end of breastfeeding .

7.) If Baby drops lots of weight to where the doctor is cautioning (threatening) you, take the baby to bed with you to nurse in the night.  Even though this is popularly reported as dangerous and horrible and the end of civilization as we know it, don’t be stupid.  This is the way mothers care for their babies all over the world and have throughout history and it apparently works.  If you are an alcoholic, this is a bad idea.  If you’ve got a drug addiction, this is a bad idea. If you sleep like the dead where no one can ever wake you up, also a bad idea. If you have other weird issues, don’t do it. If you are a normal mother, read up on it to have an idea how to make it safer in our culture’s bedrooms and take care of your baby’s needs before giving in to common myths.  (Note:  When I took our last baby to bed with me at 2 months, this is when his weight drop stabilized.) If you aren’t comfortable with cosleeping at 1 month, don’t do it.  You might be comfortable with it at 3 months, or 6 months, or whatever.  Whenever you start doing it, it is unlikely you will go back to sleeping separate and getting/waking up to feed Baby.

8.) Reflux.  This is super common. but for some reason, instead of discussing this with me, our pediatrician instead suggested artificial feedings because of the rapid weight loss.  Gggggrrrr…..    Our last baby had a terrible problem with reflux until he was around 5 months old. He would vomit out more than 4 ounces on a regular basis. I just kept him on the breast as often as I could so that he would always have some milk in his belly that was moving in the correct direction. Since the reflux ended, he has gotten downright chubby.

9.) There is no such thing are supplementing. There is only replacing. (If you feed your child something unnatural, you can expect your child to have problems because of your choice. I have never met any parent who chose to artificially feed that didn’t have stories of having to change (chemical) formulas and struggle with colic and other digestive issues. Along with the statistics on illness, cancers,  diabetes, and other problems in later years, and anyone who chooses this is, IMHO, downright irresponsible. )

10.)  If you want to stop breastfeeding, what would you do? Offer Baby artificial milk as a replacement for your breastmilk. This means that you are breastfeeding less often. As your body sees that your baby isn’t using the normal milk, it makes less. Simple.  If you want to successfully breastfeed, what would you do…Well, do the OPPOSITE of the above scenario. EVERY bottle of anything other than breastmilk is a replacement and tells your body to produce less. EVERY normal feeding tells your body that baby is needing this and to make more.

11.)  The idea of the “nursing vacation” really works like a charm.  If you are struggling with producing enough for the sitter/daycare to use, pick a week when you will be with baby the most or take a couple of days off work to coincide with your normal days off and set your alarm for every 2 hours. Either feed Baby or pump for 20-30 minutes every 2 hours.  Will it suck?  (Get it? HA!) YES, of course it will suck.  You will be tired and probably cranky.  Sleep 5-6 hours. but COMMIT yourself to this.  Your beloved baby is well worth it.  Think of this sleepless time for you as a tradeoff for a couple of ear infections and colds/flu episodes later on.  The first time I did this, I had already tried the brewer’s yeast, fenugreek, etc.  Nothing made a difference until I gave my body the signal that more milk was needed.  My production was markedly increased within 2 days and I filled up plenty of extra bags in the freezer to the point that, with my normal pumping, took about 4 months to need to work on extra pumping again.  I’ve done this twice in the 7 months that I have been working and breastfeeding. Once seriously, once lazily.

Take a Nursing Vacation   http://www.thebohomama.com/2012/10/day-17-take-nursing-holiday-31-days-of.html

12.) Lansinoh breastmilk bags fit directly on a Playtex nurser. They are also way easier to use than the Medela bags.

http://amzn.com/B001EPQ1QW

13.) If you are a FaceBook user, be sure to get updates from at least a couple of different pro-breastfeeding groups.  The information will help to keep your focused on what is right and the encouragement is invaluable in this breastfeeding-hostile culture.

14.)  Expect the biggest anti-breastfeeding reactions to be from women. I don’t know why, but women are generally more vicious in all aspects of life towards other women than men are.

http://blog.chron.com/momhouston/2014/01/victorias-secret-employee-denies-mom-the-right-to-breast-feed/#15728101=18

15.)  Practice some comebacks to hostility. Here’s a couple:  “You want me to cover my innocent child’s head because YOU can’t see him eating without imagining perverted sexual things???” or  “Jealous?  Want some?”  If you have some good ones, please post them in the comments.  I can always use more.

http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/mother/criticism/

16.)  There is a significant average IQ difference between breastfed and artificially fed babies.  This does NOT mean that breastfeeding causes higher IQ’s.  Breastfeeding is the natural baseline for our species.  This really means that chemically derived breastmilk substitutes causes an average drop in IQ. In simple terms, official evidence proves that not breastfeeding makes the average baby destined to be stupider.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324809004578635783141433600

17.) Convenience.  Is it really more convenient to wake up in the middle of the night to cook something or is it better to cuddle your baby close while you both just doze off together?

18.) Breastfeed babies smell better than babies that are artificially fed.  I have worked in a daycare and I have worked in 2 emergency rooms.  I can tell you, the skin smell is different.   The diapers are also incredibly different!!!!

19.) Breastmilk doesn’t stain. When your baby spits up, it is honestly no big deal.  It doesn’t reek and you can wash it out easily.

20.) Breastfeeding means that you have to actually touch and hold your child.  It means that there is eye-contact made.  It is not constant, but it certainly is repeated over and over. You, as a mother, are less capable of treating your child as an object to keep in a plastic box (carseat) all day when you have to actually TOUCH your child every time he eats.  I have never met any bottle feeding parent who doesn’t prop up the bottle sometimes. I have never met any bottle feeding parent who will hold a child close for any feedings once the baby can hold up a bottle.  Can you stick to a diet/exercise plan or commit to self study enough to learn a foreign language?  If the answer is NO, then you’d probably be lazy when bottlefeeding your child, too.

21.) Specially designed breastfeeding-friendly tops/blouses are a great idea.  I bought 3 different styles. NONE of them work well.  The most practical thing is to wear a tank top under your outer top/shirt/blouse.  Shirt goes up, tank top goes down, your belly is covered (and warm in winter!) and you can easily be comfortable and not stress about the perverted people thinking you are nasty.  Before you plunk any money down for a nursing top, go to Babies R Us or some other storefront and TRY one on,  Bend over and pick something up and do some movement with it to decide if it will work.

22.)  A nursing bra is a great thing but it is NOT necessary.  This is a modern invention and women have successfully nursed without them since the beginning of time. Don’t get suckered into thinking you have to buy anything to nurse your child.

23.) If you (non-breastfeeder) are planning to visit the new mom and baby, DON’T assume you have the right to feed the baby unless you are planning to breastfeed him. You can burp, change diapers,  cuddle, sing to, dance with, rock, nap, etc.  You are a jerk if you interfere with the natural need of the baby to eat normally for your entertainment.  (This is way too common and, honestly, I just don’t get it.)

24.)  Don’t feel like you should NIP (nurse in public) until you are skilled enough at it to be comfortable.  After the baby is about 6 weeks old, you and he might be good enough at it to not be distracted and uncomfortable by other people.  After 3 months, it will probably be easy. (I wouldn’t play a piano in public without at least that much training, either!)  When you first start trying, do it in a park  or a movie theatre somewhere so that you can relax and not feel like you are on stage.   (My youngest could be happily quiet at the movies until he was about 9 months old. )

25.)  Of course the instinct to breastfeed is natural for you and Baby, but… Are you surprised that it is difficult in the beginning?  Of course it is difficult. Everything you are new at takes practice to be good at it.  Your walking, eating, sex, toileting, washing, talking, etc all took time and practice, too.  Don’t expect perfect success in the first few weeks.

26.)  If you still want to claim that you “don’t make enough milk”, this is no excuse to stop breastfeeding.  Your body will make as much as you offer.  If you offer SOME breastmilk, that is better than NO breastmilk.  Go ahead and artificially feed your precious baby part-time.  Stopping breastfeeding altogether and citing this as the reason makes you sound like an idiot.

27.) Some stats show that 2% of women have genuine trouble breastfeeding.  This doesn’t mean that they can’t. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.  I can buy this excuse only for mastectomy and chemo patients. Kidnap victims. Slaves. Adoptive mothers (many do successfully breastfeed, though–takes dedication and usually, professional assistance ).

28.)  It is commonly discussed that impoverished families in remote or dire locations/situations often choose to fake-feed.  But because of their poverty, it is often mixed with too much water and/or contaminated water, resulting in sick and dead babies all over the world.  Why is this your problem?  Who do these poor, uneducated families copy? Us.  When you let modern fashion decide for you  repeatedly to do something that you know good and well is not the better choice for Baby, you can expect uneducated women to copy you.

29.) You know who the biggest purchaser of artificial feeding formula products is?  The U.S. taxpayer.  People that are already poor don’t need to be given scientifically-proven inferior luxury/convenience items.  I certainly don’t want to be working my fingers to the bone so that some teeny bopper can show off how she carries cans of this in her baby’s diaper bag.  That is the fashion in my ghetto-ish neighborhood.  It is apparently very important to your status to carry a can of the powder in your hand or take it out of the bag and display it when not actually using it. No lie, I have repeatedly seen young mothers carrying a can in one hand and the baby carrier in the other as they shop in Sharpstown Mall PlazAmericas.  (Just knowing that breastfeeding often acts as a natural birth control is even more reason to stop subsidizing it for people who can’t afford kids in the first place.)

http://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2011-september/infant-formula-market.aspx#.UwRXaoX_OuQ

From the above site:  In fiscal year 2010, WIC served 9.2 million participants per month, including over half of all infants born in the United States. Federal program costs for WIC were $6.8 billion in fiscal year 2010.

27.)  I have no idea how artificially fed babies are quickly calmed down when hurt, terrified, cranky, etc.  Babies live in a dangerous and scary world. Breastfeeding almost always instantly resolves or helps to resolve uncomfortable situations–Baby is in your arms, knows he is safe, distracted by a yummy drink, and getting a dose of endorphins that are biologically designed to relax the little guy.  There is nothing designed in a lab that can provide these benefits.

28.)  Some vaccines work better for babies that are breastfed than those who lack this important foundation.

http://evolutionaryparenting.com/breastfeeding-and-vaccines/

29.)  Double or triple sheet your bed.  (This bumper method works great: I’ll put the link to the How-To here).  If you roll over in the night and squash your breast, especially in the first couple of months, you can leak all over and wake up all wet.  If you have more than one set of sheets, especially with something between the layers, you can easily strip the wet ones off and crawl back into a fresh set of sheets.  This is great for leaky diapers or barfing babies, too.

30.)  Someone gave me some of the Johnson’s nursing pads (http://amzn.com/B000GCJO1I).  They were awful.  I tried them for the first couple of months after going back to work.  They didn’t stay in place (perhaps my job is too active) and somehow, they managed to flip over most of the time and the adhesive was against my skin–UNCOMFORTABLE!  If you are going to use disposables, don’t get this brand.

31.)  Breastfeeding in a carrier:  If you have this fantasy of doing it hands free, drop it in the beginning.  For most women, it is one hand free and the other helping to position Baby.  It is still pretty awesome to be able to get your shopping done while Baby is little.  Your hand support ensures that suffocation doesn’t occur.  For me, I got lots of smiles and sweet words from people who thought the baby was just sleeping.  Most folks didn’t even realize that he was suckling.  When you baby is big, it may work out or it may not.  for me now (at 9 months), if he feeds in a carrier, I sit down.  The carrier prevents me from needing to keep my elbow bent that sometimes causes me pain.

32.)  True or False:  Bigger breasts make more milk.
The milk-making parts have nothing to do with the size-producing parts.  Size is from fatty deposits (or if you are unlucky, atypical growths).  Flat chested women have no problem breastfeeding due to size.  To be honest, I would expect that it is easier since you don’t have so much breast tissue that you have to constantly hold your breast in place.

33.)  If you really feel like you are not making enough milk and you want to offer your child something other than a commercial product, here are some resources for you:

http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/video-homemade-milk-based-baby-formula/

http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/video-hypoallergenic-baby-formula/

http://www.mtcapra.com/discover-how-this-homemade-goat-milk-infant-formula-changed-my-daughters-life/

If you just need something to get by in a pinch, our preferred option was to keep powdered goat’s milk available.  Our child was very skinny when going through the worst parts of the reflux and I was desperate.  I added a scoop of goats milk to each bottle of breastmilk for Baby to consume while I was at work.  I also took some small 2-ounce bottles and put in the amount of powder along with other bottles of water in a bag in the diaper bag so that it could be quickly mixed while I was stuck in traffic.  When Baby was going through a growth spurt while I was working, he would drink everything that I could pump and want more.  Having this on hand helped me to relax and reduced the pressure that I felt when pumping.  We bought 3 cans total and that 3rd one is still more than half full.  I also dipped into it when cooking sometimes. I also tried making stock from chicken or turkey and used that for mixing with the goats milk to really boost the nutrition, but didn’t always do that.  (Baby’s skinny-ness reversed when we I started taking him to bed to nurse. He didn’t always start out in bed, but he did always end up there.)  Note:  We didn’t use the goats milk as a replacement but as an actual supplementation.  Breast was the first option always when I was available. The goats milk was just to get over hurdles.  Now that baby self-feeds a variety of solids, we haven’t depleted the reserve supply of frozen breastmilk ever.

34.)  Don’t expect to be encouraged to breastfeed by everyone if you have a hospital birth.  I was encouraged by 3 different nurses during my time in the hospital to just use formula.  One was visibly angry with me because I was insistent that they not offer it and instead bring my child back to me.  A newborn will eat every hour to 1 1/2 hours.  Sometimes more.  Don’t assume that you need to “fix” normal.  This repeated feeding is how your body knows how much milk to make and it will respond, but only if you let it.  Giving anything else to baby interferes with the natural process.  Never forget that if you choose to offer anything other than your breastmilk from your breasts, expect problems.

35.)  The little nipple shields are a godsend in the beginning.  Baby hasn’t developed the habit to latch-on properly and you are a total amateur, too.  These little shields can really help if you are sore or inverted or whatever.  There are many complaints online from women who never stopped using one.  To prevent this, after baby has stopped feeling desperate for food but is still not finished, remove the shield and offer your natural nipple.  Both of you can practice better without the pressure of the hungries. I used mine for 3 or 4 weeks until Baby had learned to latch better (and I had learned how to position better, too).

36.)  Don’t expect daycare or nursery workers to not be hostile.  Even ones who claim to have breastfed may show you clearly from their hostility and stupidity that they have no idea what they are talking about. It is easier for them to crack a plastic bottle filled with processed product than to properly care for and offer your baby’s perfect breast-milk-meals.  DO NOT offer bottles with more than 2 ounces for a little baby.  Tell them to use 2 bottles if needed or they might be stupid and just toss out the extra in the bottle that you worked so hard to pump.  At 9 months old, I have stopped packaging only 3 -4 ounces and now I aim for 5-6.  He still sometimes doesn’t want more than a little  so this keeps us from wasting so much.

37.)  People who are not cool with you breastfeeding will brag that they did it.  Then upon further questioning, the majority seem to say, “For 2/3/4 weeks but I never made enough milk.”  Basic understanding of how the body works tells you that this person was already offering bottles of artificially produced mixtures because for pretty much everybody, the experience is that the body makes much more milk than mom knows what to do with and the bed, her clothes, and whatever touches her gets wet sometimes during this early phase.

38.)  Don’t expect your doctor to have a clue.  It is very unlikely that s/he breastfed, was breastfed, or sees anything wrong with offering a repeatedly proven inferior food.  Encouragement is not something that I ever got from any doctor. Tolerance, yes, but encouragement, no.

39.)  Especially in the early weeks, pumping often is a good thing.  Most moms have plenty of milk, baby sleeps lotsssssss, and this is a great time to start building your stash.  Colostrum continues to be a part of your milk for the first few weeks.  As long as your baby is having multiple bowel movements, often yellowish and seedy appearing, colostrum is still present.  Colostrum has a natural laxative effect.  If you have a supply of this held back, later, around a month to 6 weeks, baby will stop going all the time and might not have a bowel movement for several days. This change is drastic and freaks out many new parents.  This is a good time to pull out one of those old frozen 2 ounce bags from the freezer to pack for the church nursery or to give during a drive.  I wouldn’t give one when Mom is available because typically, Mom is so ready to venture out into the world from the stir-crazies, that there is an opportunity for someone else to .  If you have a good deep freeze, it might not be a bad idea to tuck 3 or 4 of these back for when baby starts solids, too.  Just watch the dates carefully.

40.)  When you are pumping often, especially in the new weeks, a mini fridge nearby is a godsend.  I lucked into finding one that has a hot/cold water dispenser on top with the fridge below.  It is tiny, but perfect upstairs between the bedrooms.  This is especially helpful post-op.

41.)  Milk is fresh.  If you are pumping every 2-4 hours, you can put your wet-pump parts into a plastic bag and put them in the bedroom/hallway refrigerator between pumpings instead of constant washing.  This can really make it easier for the post-op mom, too.

42.)  As supportive as a husband can be, it is unlikely that he will understand that it is NOT okay to offer your pumped milk sometimes so as not to bother you.  It is fun to feed a baby and everybody wants to do it.  Dad needs to really understand that this really makes it harder on the breastfeeding relationship.  Nipple confusion is super common.  The way that the baby drinks and holds his mouth and the effort required is completely different between the breast and the bottle.  Babies learn fast, but they can be confused just as fast and frustrated even faster.

43.)  If you can pump in your last month of pregnancy, do it.  You might get some or you might not get some.  If you do, yay! You are already starting to build a stash.  1-11/2 ounces is perfect.  If not, no matter.  You are practicing.  It is better to practice with the pump while there is no pressure and you are super excited in the first place. The liquid that you get will probably be colostrum the most powerful stuff on Earth.

44.) Learn what cluster feeding is and expect it sometimes.  If you plan to have a schedule for breastfeeding, expect to fail.  https://www.llli.org/faq/frequency.html http://thegoodletdown.blogspot.com/2011/02/early-breastfeeding-obstacles-part-5.html

45.)  Jaundice is common.  Don’t assume it is because your milk is poison. The most common solution is to feed very often, every hour to and hour and a half–the rate that the normal newborn wants to eat anyway.  http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/feeding-eating/breastfeeding/special-situations/babies-jaundice

44.) Don’t assume that you or your baby are abnormal if you don’t really know what normal is.

45.)  Teeth.  This is a nonissue for the majority.  Babies learn really fast and with only a tiny bit poking out and only on the bottom to start, damage is not possible. A biter doesn’t make you feel good, but they learn quick.  This is the first discipline a normal child learns.  Cause and effect is a great lesson to learn at the breast of a loving mama.  When does an exclusive bottle fed baby first get to learn this?

46.)  If you are uncomfortable or learning how to nurse Baby in public places, look for places where the employees and clients are Latino or from other foreign countries.  They normally don’t pay any attention to you whatsoever other than sympathetic smiles when Baby is misbehaving.  For example, today, the day I am writing #46,  our family went to a Mexican restaurant where I was the only white person to be seen.  Baby got thirsty and wanted to nurse for a bit.  I was eating also when  I raised my glass to my lips to take a drink.  Baby wanted MY drink and grunted, growled, and then began to cry.  I told him, “NO!  Ya tienes tu leche!”  Across from us, a couple of Latina mothers started smiling and laughing a little.  They could obviously relate all too well.  (Baby gave up after about 10 seconds.  When I say “no”, he already knows that his Mama doesn’t ever budge.)  It was a nice moment if camaraderie and social acceptance that is very rare for the nursing mother to experience in US culture.

47.)  Learn some recipes for finger foods that you can eat one-handed sitting sideways at the table.  It is tough to have some delicious chili, for example, but can’t eat it NOW because Baby gets to eat first.  For sit-down meals, always try to feed baby before you sit down and if you can’t, always do include some of these finger foods.  It will make your experience much nicer and will probably make you nicer, too.

48.) Learn what a nursing strike is and don’t take it personally if this happens.  This is a big tough world that your baby lives in.  Expect challenges.  https://www.llli.org/faq/strike.html  http://www.todaysparent.com/baby/breastfeeding/top-10-tips-to-end-a-nursing-strike/

49.) Teething can produce all kinds of reactions.  My youngest stopped eating any solids at all for about 4 or 5 days except tiny nibbles of what I was eating when his first tooth erupted.  It passed he is back to eating like a roughneck again. He has a second one coming in now as I write this and this time he is biting everything, especially your chin.  When you yelp, he thinks it is funny. He’s not biting anybody anywhere else, though.

50.)  Make sure your baby is accustomed to wearing a hat.  It is a good habit for when it is cold and it can give you a degree of coverage if you need to block the creepy stares when nursing in public.  Be sure to refer to #15 above as needed, too.

~~~~~

Considering all the benefits and the evidence that most women around the planet and throughout time have successfully breastfed their babies, why would any mother not want this and intentionally choose something else for her precious child?

I’ll update this as I discover more things and will add links to information backing up this information when I get a chance.

Of course, this is my own take on breastfeeding advice.  After reading this list, please note in the comments: 1.) If I sound mean 2.) if anything in there sounds kooky 3.) if you can’t understand any of the points 4.)  Any advice/experiences that you have to add.  Thank you so much.

Extra links:

http://babysbreastie.com/

Facebook post: What is one thing you wished you had known when you FIRST started your breastfeeding journey?  https://www.facebook.com/birthingandbreastfeeding/posts/629141640476174

Lactation consultant in Houston: http://www.breastfeedingwithlove.com/ http://www.breastfeedingwithlove.com/

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