Support Makes a Big Difference in the Decision to Breastfeed

Guest Posting by: Rashida McKenzie

My pregnancy did not go the way that I “planned” it. At 18 weeks, I was put on bed rest and spent the next 22 weeks there before my daughter was born healthy. However, she was whisked away right after her delivery because they believed she had a heart issue (which luckily turned out to be a false alarm) so she spent a few days in the NICU while the doctors deliberated. Even with all of those complications, I was still determined to breastfeed, however a brief run in with a pushy NICU nurse) almost derailed those plans too.

While there are quite a few reasons why a woman whose experienced pregnancy complications would choose not to breastfeed her baby, a study by the National Center of Biotechnology information revealed that the one of the largest factors that influences whether she does or not is supportive hospital practices.

When my baby was wheeled off to the NICU shortly after her birth, we were told she could not eat for at least 24-48 hours and that she would be given “sugar water” as a substitute while the Dr.’s waited to determine whether or not everything was okay. After about 36 hours she was given the okay to eat and as I was wheeled down to the NICU to attempt to breastfeed my baby for the first time when I came across the NICU nurse giving her the finishing drops of a bottle. The same nurse who I had asked the day before to let me know when it was time for her to eat that I could be wheeled down. She agreed to do so.

I was very upset and explained to her how I felt like my wishes had been disregarded and how much I would appreciate that not happening again before communicating with me. So she called me for the next feeding.

The baby had a hard time latching on and it just didn’t work. At this point she had already been approved for discharge so while I was attempting to try again that same nurse made it a point to tell me that I should just give her a bottle because if she didn’t eat her glucose levels could fall below a certain level and then she wouldn’t be able to go home. I know that she was just doing her job, but what I needed in that moment was compassion, not a lecture.

So we gave her formula.

Even though I felt pressured into giving it to her, I asked for a lactation consultant to come for the next feeding so that we could try again. The nurse agreed, but not before sharing with me that she thought giving her a bottle was “no big deal’ and that I should just give her a bottle now and try breastfeeding once we got home  because that’s what she did when her baby was in the NICU and everything worked out just fine.

Annoyed, I waited for the lactation consultant and when she came I asked the nurse to leave so that we could have some privacy.

After trying for a while without success, the lactation consultant finally suggested that when we got home I just stop giving her the bottle, because “If she wanted to eat, she would latch on.” Well we went home and that lasted all of 10 seconds because I refused to starve my child as she cried uncontrollably.

I cried to and gave her formula.

I was having a hard time with my milk coming in and was trying to pump as often as I could, but I was in so much pain that I regretted not staying in the hospital another day or two.

When we went for the five day check-up, her pediatrician asked how she was being fed. When I told her formula she asked whether I tried breastfeeding and whether or not I wanted to. Did I….?!?!

I broke down….again.

I shared with her what my experience had been up until that point and she recommended I meet with their in-house lactation consultant.   We did. We tried again. Still, no luck! She told me to continue to practice and to come back in 3 days.

So we gave her formula…

And a little bit of breast milk!

By about day 6 I was getting enough milk where I could go back and forth between the two.

Feeling a little defeated, but still determined I called the hospital and was told that I was welcome come back and meet with another one of the consultants, but the hospital was already about 30 minutes away with no traffic. Physically, I just wasn’t up for the trip.

So after three days, I drug myself back into the pediatrician’s office for another try. We had a little bit more luck, but she wasn’t getting enough milk to quite call it a success. Then the lactation consultant showed me some tricks and gave me some tips on using my pump to help more of my milk come in. She massaged those babies until my milk runneth over. My husband was there routing me on and it really felt like a breakthrough.

So we gave her breast milk!!!

We had fully transitioned to her being exclusively breastfed. Still part of me, felt like maybe if I gave it one more shot. So we went back to lactation lady one last time. She was still having a hard time latching.

The nurse looked at me and hugged me around the shoulders and said how impressed she was with my determination, but it wasn’t working (we had tried several things). The thing she said next was so simple, yet profound.

“Sweetie, the most important thing is that she is getting her mommy’s milk.”

I’m not going to lie, I felt a little robbed of that “bonding” experience that other moms talk about, but regardless I felt good that I didn’t give up. So, I decided to exclusively pump.

So we gave her (exclusively) breast milk!

If I had let the NICU Nurse have the last say, I would have just given her the formula, but because I had already made up my mind that I wanted to give my baby breastmilk I actively sought the support I needed and that was one of the key factors for me following through.

Trust me, I know that after experiencing pregnancy complications (or even having an uncomplicated pregnancy) there may be several reasons that you opt for giving your baby formula, and I don’t blame you one bit. I wrote this not to shame anyone for deciding to go that route, but to let other moms know if breastfeeding is something that you really want to do find a hospital with supportive practices before birth, a great lactation consultant who will be patient after birth, ask what your options are, get a good pump and go for it!



Rashida McKenzie is a new mom and the Founder of Queen Bee Concierge. Queen Bee Concierge provides personal assistance for busy moms whether they are easing into motherhood or managing their family’s busy lifestyle. For more information, visit

Infant Massage

by admin on April 8, 2015

infant massage baby girl

The Power of Touch

Guest Posting by Miryam

Receiving a massage is such a luxurious feeling. If you’ve ever received massages on a regular basis, you know the healthful benefits and relaxation they bring.  Imagine the benefits to being able to bring this soothing experience to your baby whenever you want.  Parents who massage their babies regularly report that their babies sleep better and have an easier time with elimination, and parents who practice infant massage find that it actually benefits them by helping them understand their babies’ cues and needs better and  find massage sessions uplifting and relaxing.

Evidence based studies show that regularly practicing infant massage between a parent and baby helps the whole family through:

. Improved Sleep Patterns- Infants massaged right before bed show improved sleep. In one study, babies massaged before bed showed more favorable wake-rest cycles by 8 weeks and produced more melatonin, a sleep regulator, during the night by the age of 12 weeks.

. Reduced Stress Levels- Massaged babies have shown to have lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone

. Improved Family Interaction- Fathers who used massage techniques with their infants experienced increased self-esteem as a parents. The babies greeted their fathers with more eye contact, smiling, vocalizing and reaching responses.

. Less Depressed Mothers- Learning the practice of infant massage by mothers may be an effective treatment for facilitating mother-infant interaction in mothers with postnatal depression.

. Increased Weight Gain for Premature Infants- Premature infants that were massaged regularly had higher daily weight gain, increased motor activity, and better Brazelton neonatal behavioral assessment scores.

Infant massage works by activating the natural relaxation responses in babies and parents through healthy touch. Gentle, loving touch activates hormones like oxytocin that promote relaxation and bonding. The result is parents who feel more in tune with their babies and babies who are less stressed and more open to opportunities for bonding and early self-regulation. We also use hands on techniques to help with baby’s digestion and elimination. Learning to massage your baby will empower you to use hands on skills that will help your baby rest, digest, and organize herself starting at an early age.

What to expect in an infant massage class.

Classes are small and move slowly.  This allows you to learn the strokes of infant massage at your baby’s pace, practice at home, receive lots of personalized attention, and get extra help when needed – all to make sure you and your baby are comfortable with your new skill.

Week 1: We introduce you and your baby to infant massage, learning a few strokes and how to get started.

Week 2:  This week, we’ll talk about baby’s digestive system and how to use massage to help things along.

Week 3: Infant reflexes and relaxation are discussed and more massage strokes are added.

Week 4: Review of a full body massage and tips for successfully continuing infant massage into the toddler years.

About the Instructor

Miryam is a Certified Educator of Infant Massage, actively accredited by Infant Massage USA.  She has been teaching infant massage in the DC Metro Area since 2012 and has worked with at least 70 families and practiced infant massage with her own children since birth and owns Bringing Home Baby, a baby carrier retailer located in Silver Spring, MD.

Miryam will be teaching a series of infant massage classes on Sundays at Bethesda Breastfeeding starting in May. Please Contact Us to sign up before classes fill up!

The Day I Lost My Milk

by admin on March 20, 2015

Baby at BreastI never knew the magical powers of breastfeeding, until I lost them…

 Guest Posting by: Luciana E. Rubiera


I had some trouble in the beginning of my breastfeeding experience with my daughter, but it all worked out and I ended up having an over supply. I thought it was annoying, having to pump a few times per day just so I wouldn’t feel engorged. I donated my milk twice to mothers nearby, while their own supply was becoming established. I pumped in the morning before my daughter would feed, and once right before bed. It was a hassle, but I thought if I could, I should because so many Moms cannot.

Well fast forward to 5 months post partum when I got a nasty stomach bug that was running rampant around our city…I couldn’t hold anything down, not even water, for 4 days. As a result of my, ahem, stomach problems, I became dehydrated and almost completely lost my milk. I went from pumping/nursing 8 ounces every 2-3 hours to pumping maybe 1 ounce every 4 hours if that.

I cried. A lot.

I told my sweet Lili how sorry I was for not being able to provide her with what she so simply needed to grow and flourish. I finally went to the store and purchased, with great shame, a container of formula.

The first time I made up a bottle of formula for Lili, the rush of sorrow and gut wrenching defeat that came over me was unfathomable. I had never felt so useless…what was I even around for? My husband, mother, or any other person could now sustain her life…I was useless. I failed at the one thing I was supposed to be able to do…the one thing I am specializing in career wise…It was a low point for me, no doubt.

Once I finally fully recovered from my stomach issues (about 2 weeks in total), and I was well into formula and doing all I knew to get my supply back, I contacted my mentor/boss. She is an expert in lactation, so much so, that she did her doctorate work in inducing lactation! I figured, if anyone could help me, she could. I sent her an email in desperation, and her words were so encouraging and calm…it got me through the to the next day. I started taking a few herbs known to increase milk supply, snuggling Lili more, pumping like a mad woman, and most importantly, relaxing. Once I realized that formula would not kill my child, and I was doing my part by trying everything I could possibly do to get my precious milk back, I was able to relax a bit.

Fast forward to this morning, when I joyously pumped 14 ounces in the morning and 8 ounces in my first q.3 hour pumping session. Not only that, but Lili started some solid foods, and loves them!

I feel somewhat silly, how much I let breastmilk dictate my emotions, but in my mind, it is as vital as blood or water. Without either, we will die. There is no artificial blood or water (that I know of)! Yes, infants have been receiving formula since the very early 1900s if not sooner, but it is not the best form of nutrition and I know it. Of course, I want the very best for my child, and if I cannot produce the very best, I am failing.

Regardless, I appreciate the human body that much more after my experiences with the entire child bearing process, from conception all the way to nursing. It is astounding what our bodies can create, endure, and bounce back from in order to sustain not only our lives, but also the life of another human being.

I have a beautiful, healthy baby whose morning smiles bring enough joy to last a lifetime. While we shouldn’t dwell on the things we cannot control, we also need to realize how precious life is, and never stop fighting for what we want.


I would like to credit Dr. Kathleen McCue, owner of Bethesda Breastfeeding, for her endless support and guidance through my entire breastfeeding experience.

For more candid posts about Motherhood, please visit my blog!

Milk Banking for Who…?

by admin on March 18, 2015

Frozen MilkSo, what’s really going on with milk banking?

Guest Posting: Jaye Elle, Psy. D.

People who are “approved” and “deemed worthy” can donate their milk…but those who need milk for continued strengthening of their babies, cannot obtain it???  What’s up with that?  Bank for who? And at what cost? #foregocollegetuition Donated milk basically goes through this arduous process, with screening and vetting of mothers, ruling out conditions, pasteurization…almost obtaining approval by Congress and formulated into a Bill, but when you as a dedicated mother search for milk, let’s just say “good luck” as in the movie “Taken”.  I have searched sites and have found that milk collected through donations are only for critically ill and premature infants in the NICU (National Milk Bank), OR donated to sicks infants in the hospital or sold to hospitals for use in the NICU…which sounds contradictory in itself, or is to just me (Helping Hands Bank) OR other sites where it seems TOO informal of exchange, bordering on sketchy…unsafe and seemingly reportable to some authority…like “Only the Breast”, “Milkshare”, or “Milkin Mamas….#mamahasnotimeforthat  #SomebodyShouldCallTheBoardofHealth #classifiedads

I’m tired…tired of searching…tired of inquiring and looking for solutions, but to no real avail.  Did I say I am tired or maybe I should say exhausted? Not just physically exhausted, but mentally exhausted about the challenges that a “normal mom with a normal child” have to face. So, I am a first time mom of an 8-month old baby boy. Yep, eight months with a goal to breastfeed for at least 12 months.  I’ve had numerous issues with my supply…decreases, fluctuation in amounts, not enough expressed during pumping sessions, use of herbals, use of meditation/relaxation, use of advice, literature….I’ve tried everything imaginable and I’m tired. When I say tired, I think I stated that a few sentences ago…I mean just that… I want my baby to obtain the best milk–breastmilk, even if it isn’t MY milk! Am I crazy? Is this too much to ask….apparently so. #tired

My heart goes out to those poor sick NICU babies.  Sure, they definitely need the milk to thrive and survive…but doesn’t my baby need it as well?  What’s the stress about, huh?  Give him formula…”we all survived on formula…and look at us now”.  I would like to do something different for my baby and not the “good enough” approach.  I’m likely being too hard on myself or taking this too seriously, but it does present a question/issue to other moms in my situation.  A well-intentioned process of breastfeeding turns into a stressful ordeal with no exit plan.  I imagine I could test out one of these informal sites to get a feel for the process, but I’m at a loss.  I only want to do what I feel is best for my baby.  #dontjudge #breastmilkisbest

Jaye Elle, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist in the District of Columbia and Maryland, with 10 years experience in treating a variety of mental health disorders across diverse populations. She is also credentialed by the National Register of Health Service Psychologists.  Dr. Jaye is an aspiring IBCLC and recognizes not only the physical/nutritional value of breast milk to babies, but the establishment of the emotional bond and connection that can last a lifetime.

Is motherhood not what you expected it to be?

Guest Posting: Alexandra Hughes

Can you remember what you expected motherhood to be like?

Did it look like you holding quiet baby on a rocking chair, looking longingly into each others’ eyes?

Did it look like you putting baby down with ease and bidding him goodnight as he wafted into a peaceful 8-hour rest?

Did it look like you cooking away calmly as your toddler entertained herself with beautifully crafted European toys nearby?

Did it look you coming home from a fulfilling career, energized to spend quality time with a contented child?

This romantic vision of clean smiles, hugs and moments of shared peace and fun are engraved in many mothers’ minds and expectations.

These images conveniently miss out on a few common-felt Mom feelings and experiences, though.

The exhaustion, the frustration, the overwhelm, the mush mind. The unravelling relationships, unmet deadlines, spit covered blazers, screaming (wrestling!) siblings, the perpetual mess and “to do” lists.

I went into motherhood completely unprepared. I “knew” that my children wouldn’t argue, wouldn’t become tv (or sugar!) addicts. I knew they would want to help me, would speak to me kindly and respectfully (as I spoke with them (always!). I knew my career and social lives would go unaltered, as I seamlessly integrated my children into what I considered, a full-life.


As I plunged head-first into this manic and messy world of motherhood (and that is another story!) I found myself in a serious state of shock.

Eight years and three kids later I think it’s fair to say that I am still in that state of shock. Despite having bought all the books and done all the courses, I am still not sure what is going on.

Everyday I find myself struggling to be the mother and professional woman that I want to be.

The good news is that somewhere along the way I discovered that I am not alone in this struggle.

Support from mentors and coaches, solidarity with other mothers-in-shock coupled with a good sense of humor, A LOT of self-care (against all odds) help me to see the value in my broken expectations.

It helps me to hold all that IS, all that wasn’t supposed to be or happen, in a place of gratitude.

Here’s a quick 5-minute exercise to help you shift away from expectations that may weigh down your experience of what IS.

  • Identify your expectations of motherhood – imagine them, write them up, or draw them out.
  • Let them go – breath them out, rip them up.
  • Write a gratitude list of what brought you joy today – take 3-5 minutes sitting in a feeling this list brings you; simply breathing and being in joy.
  • Imagine yourself in a circle of women who are sitting with you in this place of joy.
  • Hold onto or recall this feeling throughout the day

This is one of many simple exercises you can use to support yourself as a mother. Other resources and tools can be found on – a website dedicated to supporting mothers seeking calmer and more joyful lives.

If stress and motherhood feel as if they go hand in hand, consider joining the next Calm Mom Coaching Circle, starting 25 March in Tenleytown, D.C. Visit to learn more. Bethesda Breastfeeding clients receive a 10% discount.


Alexandra Hughes

Alexandra Hughes is founder of and a transformational women’s coach dedicated to helping mothers find balance, joy and to become empowered creatrixes and leaders of their personal and professional lives.  She launched In Essence Coaching, LLC in 2011 after training with the International Coaching Academy to become a Certified Professional Coach. Prior to this, Alexandra dedicating 18 years of her professional career to International Development research and practice.

Alexandra lives in Washington D.C. with her three young vivacious children and her husband.


So, why is this news for breastfeeding women? Well, because I got to decide what’s important and television worthy………but I’m really not sure whether I made the right decision or not. Let me tell you the story in Readers Digest version.

A call comes out by lactation circle email that they need an IBCLC to appear on Hope TV to educate women on lactation. I chomp at the bit. Not only because I want to teach as many women as possible about lactation, but because I hear the words “hair and makeup.” As a busy lactation consultant and nurse practitioner, I rarely have time for anything like that and so agree to be interviewed (and get a complimentary mini-makeover).

Fast forward to the host calling me to discuss what SHE thinks nursing women need to know to keep them breastfeeding……..gut flora. “Seriously?” I say….Do you think women really care about gut flora? I think they’d rather get some pragmatic advice on nursing positions or making sure they don’t swaddle during the day and avoid pacifiers (at least for the first 40 days)…..or how about SLEEP? Hmmmm, the show’s host says (who herself is an OB/GYN).

OK, I get there EARLY because of Washington rush hour traffic and get led to a beautiful dressing room where the makeup artist comes to get me. Since I had a “mini makeover” in mind, I came looking like someone who just got “shot out of a cannon.” My after work look… all know it! The makeup artist asks me what look I was going for……I said “20 years younger and really smart.” She actually brought out a type of bowl and began mixing up spackle…..At that point, I was looking around for the sanding block. OK, so she “touched me up” a bit…..Now onto the hair……WAIT…..ONLY MAKEUP???? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?……but they said “HAIR”…..I was sure of it….Yikes! Thank heavens they had hot rollers right there. Unfortunately, the hot rollers had been HEATING UP ALL DAY and with the first roller (and in my haste and PANIC), I burned the flesh on my forehead into a small tattoo resembling the state of California.

OK….got it together and now headed for the STAGE….Meet up with my “co-star” Dr. R, a terrific guy (and neonatologist) whom I had never met before. We become fast friends like hostages in a bank hold-up…..We agree to “help each other out” should the need arise or should one of us happen to be struck by the “fight or flight” adrenaline blast and bolt…..OK…..we’re solid. Two minutes to air time and the host of the show tells us there’s been a change of questioning based on my earlier conversation with her about how I’m not too fond of teaching women about gut flora when there’s a heck of a lot more interesting AND IMPORTANT information out there to help support breastfeeding. Dr. R looks at me aghast while I mutter something about “Well, who thought she’d actually listen to me?” The questions have been changed, one minute to air time and……one more thing…..WE’RE NOT TO LOOK AT EACH OTHER OR TALK TO EACH OTHER DURING THE COURSE OF THE SHOW”…….and……We’re live in 5-4-3-2-1!

I’m sure the link will be on the website if you want to see how I did. She asked me to bring my first book but …..what the heck…..I brought all three…….she wasn’t exactly happy with that move but with a chunk of skin missing on my forehead, I figured she owed me the free press.

It was actually FUN……I may go back for a show on weaning…..that is, if my forehead ever heals. Here’s the link

Now here’s my question to all you breastfeeders out there. What do you want me to write about? What do you want to hear about on TV shows? Help me understand your needs and I’ll write my best suggestions in content for this website. Thanks.

TIME; The most precious commodity of all!

by admin on December 7, 2012

Most mothers have been stressed when they have a new baby. I DO, absolutely remember how tiring it is to be a mother and especially when you’re a breastfeeding mother. I decided to write about time this week because in the midst of working with a new breastfeeding mother of a six day old, she flat-out told me that this “breastfeeding thing is taking way too much of my time.” I was left flabbergasted and flap-jawed. What I wanted to say and what I did say were two very different things. What I wanted to say was “Well, what were you expecting?……Did you think you were going to drop the baby in the umbrella stand in the way in and out of your front door?” What I actually said is “Tell me how I can help you.” She went on to explain that this every two hour hunger thing was beginning to grate on her nerves. I went on to explain that babies had tummies the size of golf balls and that breastmilk was a “perfect food” that made it digest and move through the stomach very rapidly. I quoted how each DROP of colostrum had 3 million cells (the majority being immune cells). Breastfeeding is as much nurturing as nourishing (hoping the old adage would help). I also described cluster feeding as being analogous to a camel getting ready to cross the desert…….feed, feed, feed and then you get the big sleep (maybe 4-5 hours max). In my first book “Start Here; Breastfeeding and Infant Care with Humor and Common Sense” I tried to call the hours between 6-10PM the “arsenic hours,” but the publisher opted for something safer. I guess that “every hour on the hour” cluster thing is what put this new mother “over the edge.”
So, here are some suggestions I’ve come up with to help you save time during your busy breastfeeding days. If you have an exceptionally sleepy baby (or just have need to get the show on the road once in awhile), I find that you can feed on one side while you simultaneously pump on the other…..Tarzan Pumping (at least that’s what I call it). That trick alone can save you up to a half hour per feeding and maximize your milk supply. Your body will react as it you’re feeding twins (because both sides are going at the same time) and perhaps even increase supply a bit. It will also expedite your feeding and have your baby feel as though a bigger, stronger twin was on the other breast helping him or her out. Now you’ll want to feed that milk to your baby at some point (perhaps during cluster feeding time), as when I previously instructed another mom to do this, she was giddy with her new frozen stash; problem was the baby hadn’t gained any weight in a week …… duhhhh; I should have been more clear with my instructions but thought is was pretty self-evident.
To accomplish this TARZAN PUMPING , I like the hands free pumping bra by Simple Wishes because it has a zipper that unzips from the bottom up (in fact, you can add the panel and make it have two zippers), giving lots of flexibility (can get one breast out for baby while the other is snug in the bra. If you’ve already purchased the “other” less flexible hands free bra (that zips from the top down), then you can try turning it upside down so the zipper goes the opposite way.
Anyone who tells you to sleep when the baby sleeps probably doesn’t shower, do laundry, use the bathroom, open the mail or eat; I never understood that suggestion. I mean, that’s the only time you have to do ANYTING, isn’t it?
Also, ALLOWING others to do things for you will help put time back in your day. You shouldn’t feel as though you’re not a good mother if you don’t do everything and do it well (do as I say, not as I do/did). I remember 28 years ago how I came creeping out of my house to get the mail and was spotted by my neighbor. She promptly sent her “nanny” over to my house with instructions to “help that poor woman out.” Problem is that I wouldn’t let the well-meaning nanny in. As I look back on it, I was afraid that I’d be found out; that I’d be “exposed” and my neighbor would know how I wasn’t really holding things together as a mother “should.” In my experience, many mothers feel that same way. They’re overwhelmed but think that they’re the only mother experiencing that. I’m here to tell you that MOST mothers feel overwhelmed in the beginning and if they tell you otherwise, I’d be wary.
So when I heard this mother complaining about time, as I think more about it, I’m suspicious there might be something else going on. Is she depressed? Is she lonely and needs to get out of the house for companionship, does she simply have cabin-fever, or are her expectations that “out-of-whack” with reality and how much time infants take out of a mothers day? What do you think?

Hey! Where’s my free breastpump and lactation consultant

November 6, 2012

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Follow-up on GERD – This gives ME heartburn!

August 31, 2012

GERD – TO TREAT OR NOT TO TREAT, THAT IS THE QUESTION (BUT JUST THINKING ABOUT IT GIVES ME HEARBURN) Is reflux the new ADD/ADHD for babies, in other words is this being over diagnosed and over treated ? Does every baby that cries for no apparent reason, need to be fixed? Let’s weigh this […]

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August 25, 2012

Read a post of and thought it was worth re-posting TUESDAY, AUGUST 21, 2012 Reader Question: Variation in Breastfeeding Frequency Recently, a reader asked us why her 8-week-old baby was still nursing every 2 hours when her friend’s baby (just a couple of weeks older) began nursing every 3 to 4 hours around the […]

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